Russian Decorative Arts


  • An informative guide to Russian Decorative Arts and their historical context
  • Covers a wide range of crafts including Fabergé, jewellery, woodwork, hardstone, glass and porcelain, as well as precious metal
  • Explores pre-Revolutionary Russia, discussing various artefacts of the Tsarist era as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries with particular focus on the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Ideal for both novice and established collectors of the field

Russia’s last great Imperial celebration took place in St Petersburg with the lavish ball of 1913 celebrating 300 years of Romanov rule. The finest gowns, jewels, snuff boxes, and banqueting tableware of the Tsarist era were sumptuously displayed then for the last time. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 brought such opulence to an end.

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians have been eager to repatriate their lost heritage. Works by jewellers and silversmiths to the Tsars are particularly sought after today as status symbols, with the market for pre-Revolutionary decorative arts touching a wide audience – from the curators at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, to the predawn bargain hunters at the Paris flea markets.

Russian Decorative Arts offers an introductory guide to porcelain, glass, silver, Tula work and other base metals, orders and decorations, jewellery, objects of virtue, Fabergé, lapidary, woodwork and walrus ivory. Each topic is detailed in an illustrated chapter introducing the techniques, its specific Russian characteristics and an overview of the principle makers.

Contents: Introduction; Precious Metal; Enamel; Jewellery; Fabergé; Hardstone; Awards and Decorations; Porcelain; Glass; Metalwork; Bone; Lacquer; Woodwork; Conclusion; Glossary; The Romanov Dynasty – Reign Dates; Bibliography; Index.

Having grown up in a family of Russian art collectors and lived on and off in Moscow and St Petersburg, Cynthia Coleman Sparke was destined for the field. After running the Russian department at Christie’s NY, she worked with the Fabergé and Imperial porcelain holdings of the Hillwood Museum in Washington D.C. (the largest collection of Russian decorative arts outside of Russia). Then followed a project in St Petersburg at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo helping with the restoration of Tsar Nicholas II’s last residence – the subject of her Master’s thesis from the Bard Graduate Center. She is currently a consultant for Bonhams specialising in Russian works of art.