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Made by: Imperial Arms Manufacture

On view in: Icon Room

About this object

The city of Tula near Moscow was an important center of arms production in Russia since the early 1700s. Later in the century, especially from the reign of Catherine the Great, the manufacture expanded their production to include everyday objects such as furniture, mirror frames, candlesticks, chess sets, tea caddies, made in the same steel used for weaponry. Every year, Catherine the Great visited the town of Sophia, near Tsarskoe Selo, to see an exhibition of new creations by the Tula craftsmen. These skilled artists gradually developed various techniques for embellishing the steel to profit from its reflective qualities. By the late 1700s, decorative faceting came to the fore, which used variously-shaped steel beads to imitate the sparkling quality of precious stones. Another technique was low-relief decoration known as encrustation, whereby incisions were cut into the metal surface and then a piece of gold or silver is hammered into place. This technique is visible in the swags on the nozzle and base of the candlestick. Very few specimens of Tula steel exist in the United States. This superlative new acquisition places Hillwood in the rarefied group of museums who do, and is a fitting tribute to the memory of our esteemed colleague and former chief curator, Anne Odom (1935-2011).

Object name:
Made from:
cut steel --faceted steel beads --gilt bronze --gold --silver
Made in:
Tula, Russia
Date made:
Overall: H 9 3/4 in. Base: W 4 1/8 in., D 4 1/8 in.

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
Credit line:
Collectors Circle and Museum purchase in memory of Anne Curtis Odom, 2012