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Re-organisation under Alexander I. High Classicism

Alexander I (1801–25). Alexander I inherited an interest in the porcelain factory, too. But the turbulent historic events that befell to his reign did not allow the emperor, who defeated Napoleon and saved Europe, from giving due attention to the development of Russian porcelain. The only man, who was responsible for the state of affairs at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory throughout the reign of Alexander I,became the manager of the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty, Count Dmitry Guryev. In 1809 Dmitry Guryev, who was eager to make the art department impeccable, invited the sculptor Stepan Pimenov, an adjunct-professor of the Academy of Arts, to the factory. At Pimenov’s request, Alexey Voronikhin, a nephew of the celebrated architect Andrey Voronikhin, was also brought from the Academy to the sculptural chamber. From the Sèvres Manufactory, famous for its painters, they invited Henri Adam, and later to the factory came, also from Sèvres, two “porcelain artists” – the gilder-decorator Denis Morot and the painter Jacques François Joseph Swebach. Warmly welcomed at the factory, all of them contributed to the improvement of porcelain production; they educated and trained many Russian craftsmen. The Russian porcelain not only glorified the deeds of the Emperor but also conveyed national ideas and attitudes. For example, Guryevsky dinner set is an ode to the people who won the Patriotic War of 1812. This historical event also gave rise to a series of “war plates” depicting the soldiers and officers of all branches of Russian military service. Moreover, portrait painting was widely practiced. The Imperial Porcelain Manufactory used to make cups with the images of the crowned heads and dignitaries of the time. Vases played a special part in the manufactory output from the early years of Alexander I’s reign and till the 1860s. Gold became one of the favourite decorative materials, while painting was dominated by landscapes and battle scenes. Another important group of products included palace dinner sets.