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Main | Archive | Issue 2/2008

Old German Silver in the Kremlin Collections
Column: The Arts

The Moscow Kremlins State Armory is famous for its collection of old European silver, including a collection of German silver objects that is justly considered one of the worlds best. Today, there are more than 1,500 items by the most brilliant 16th18th masters working in famous metropolises of gold and silver art such as Nuremberg, Augsburg, Hamburg, as well as cities that tried to match them-Lbeck, Dresden, Leipzig, and Passau and other places. European sovereigns bought what they created as treasures and to display them. Ambassadors gift giving, an essential part of diplomatic etiquette, was inconceivable without items of German silver. That is why the embassies of Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Austria, whose relations with Russia were especially close back in the 16th18th centuries, brought a major portion of German silver to Russia. Specially appointed Russian government functionaries sometimes bought hundreds of silver articles worth many thousands of rubles for the tsars disposal.. Over the centuries, the Russians tsars acquired a wonderful collection of German silver. Even today we are impressed by the craftsmens supreme professionalism and the variety of styles - from late Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism to mature Baroque. Without doubt, the creations of the German craftsmen influenced Russian gold and silver smiths, who sought to match the German items in their highly rich shapes and patterns.

Oleg Torchinsky.
The illustrations were taken from the catalogue of the exhibition Asserting Friendship.
Ambassadorial Donations to Russian Tsars (Moscow Kremlin Museums, 2005).


-, 2006