How philanthropist Savva Mamontov revived Russian ceramics: Unique majolica Abramtseva
Everyone knows about the influence that philanthropist Savva Mamontov had on patronage of Russian culture, who gathered the greatest artists at his Abramtsevo estate. But special attention is required to create the famous majolica plant. With the help of talented artists and an equally talented chemist, the production of Savva Mamontov made a real breakthrough in ceramic technology. The Abramtsevo majolica, preserved on the facades of houses, still pleases the eye as a monument to the modern era and an unsurpassed art form.
An experimental ceramic art workshop appeared in this unique corner of Russian culture in 1889, 19 years after Savva Mamontov acquired the estate from writer Sergei Aksakov.
Successful combination of talents
To revive the Russian majolica (unique works of art made of colored burnt clay and coated with glaze) took the talented Russian artists. Repin, Vasnetsov and many other painters tried their hand at this workshop, and even … Savva Ivanovich Mamontov himself. But perhaps the greatest contribution to the revival of this art was made by Peter Vaulin and Mikhail Vrubel
According to the idea of the organizers of this venture, Majolika Abramtseva was to revive the fashion for ancient manor stoves of the XVI-XVII centuries with beautiful tiles, which, as the artists hoped, would certainly return.
By the way, at the dawn of the workshop Vrubel made designs for the stoves of the manor house and outbuildings of Mamontov in Abramtsevo, as well as the tombstones of Andrei Mamontov.
Vrubel brought to the production of the “new majolica” his imagination, talent for decorative art and courage of ideas. Vaulin is a unique and modern way of production. As a chemist by training, he developed a new technological process and came up with unique coating recipes. Moreover, the firing method developed by Vaulin made it possible to achieve very original and incredibly beautiful artistic effects in the manufacture of products.
The tandem of Vrubel and Vaulin with the very important participation of other talented artists led to the creation of masterpieces and a new direction in art. But, of course, without the financial (and not only financial) protection of the influential Savva Mamontov, such brilliant results would hardly have been achieved.
And the results were not long in coming. Majolica Abramtseva was very much appreciated both in Russia and abroad, the works of artists occupied high places at prestigious exhibitions.
A few years after the creation of the workshop, Mamontov transferred production from Abramtsev to Moscow, where he built a majolica factory. The company received a new name – Abramtsevo Pottery.
The majolica, produced at the factory, continued to have wildly popular popularity. Its uniqueness was not only in the surprisingly beautiful coating and skill of great artists, but also in the fact that the products were made from different-module parts, which is why they somehow resembled mosaics. (Vrubel is considered the founder of this idea, although it is also found in the works of the Spanish architect Gaudi of the same period).
In 1900, Mamontov presented samples of his production at the World Exhibition in Paris. Majolica Abramtseva was appreciated: the owner of the plant was awarded a gold medal as a producer, and Vrubel – a gold medal as an artist for the fireplace “Meeting Volga with Mikula Selyaninovich” presented at the exhibition, which, incidentally, was used for some time as intended, as well as for sculptures made on the plots of operas.