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Kvassnik (a vessel for Kvass)

Gzhel, Moscow Province. The last third of 18th century


In the last third of the 18th century, among the centres of folk pottery, the Gzhel region, which is situated near Moscow, had high-quality clay deposits. In many villages the peasants made majolica dishes painted on the raw enamels. The Gzhel kvassniks, jugs, mugs, figured vessels, plates, and rukomoi (hanging vessels for washing hands) are distinguished by the peculiar plasticity of forms and inimitable painting in which five colours of gentle shades are used. The artists drew the themes for their paintings from life and nature, compelling the images to the conventional nature of the decor.

A virtuosic laconic pattern in combination with soft brush strokes transmitted images of birds, animals, rural landscapes with smoking chimneys of houses. Scenic decorations were often supplemented by small sculptures placed on the sides of vessels: musicians, kissing couples, soldiers shooting the cannons, peasant women in characteristic costumes. The Gzhel majolica was popular and in great demand. Therefore the artists wrote the creation date and made the author's inscriptions on some products that were gifts.


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