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Firmata Travel offers to visit interesting exhibition in Gzhel.

Gzhel is a place sixty kilometres from Moscow, famed as a place of natural beauty and as a seat of renowned pottery manufactures of six centuries’ standing. Known throughout the world, the word gzhel has ample undertones of beauty, harmony and a reality intermingled with magic. The festive blue-patterned porcelain and multi-colored delftware of Gzhel is loved by connoisseurs in all countries due to its makers’ exquisite taste, daring imagination and excellent craftsmanship. The cradle and main contemporary centre of Russian artistic pottery, Gzhel gave its mother country the best achievements of this craft. Archaeological excavations prove that folk pottery thrived here even in the 14th century.

Artistic craftsmen could not find a better place than this, with its luscious woods, crystal clear rivers and superb clay. ” Nowhere did I see a clay whiter than this,” exclaimed a medieval chronicler.

Gzhel is the name of a major ceramics centre situated some fifty kilometres southeast of Moscow. The village of Gzhel is mentioned for the first time in the fourteenth century in the testament of Ivan Kalita the Moneybag, the Grand Prince of Muscovy. Otherwise historical chronicles note that the dominant pursuit of the local population was the making of pottery, for which reason the very name of Gzhel derives in all likelihood from the Russian verb zhech which means burn in the sense of firing clay. Though the secrets of the craft were handed down from generation to generation long before, Gzhel really rose to fame as a large centre of ceramics in the eighteenth century when local potters mastered the making of majolica or majolica tin-glazed earthenware, which owes sonbriguet to the island of Majorca, where these ceramic wares were made.

At that time majolica wares were called in Russia tsenina. The origin of the word is not known exactly. Majolica wares were termed in Europe faience. The product was usually made of tinted clays, had a massive porous shell, and was decorated with enamel colours in polychromatic, typically peasant-style designs. True, tsenina was first manufactured in Moscow at the establishment of the merchant Afanasy Grebenshchikov, who employed a number of potters from Gzhel. Returning home and having learned the secrets of majolica manufacture, they started their own potteries. Though we have no idea who they were-their names have been lost – they made so fine a start that within the space of but several years, Gzhel majolica was already successfully competing with Grebenshchikov’s produce. Whereas the celebrated Italian Renaissance majolica borrowed subject material from contemporary painting and served an exclusively decorative purpose (produced mostly were large vases, giant dishes and bas-reliefs), Gzhel ware was, on the contrary, of utilitarian shape and form and was decorated with the two-dimensional designs that are typically of folk origin; the large local pools of bright colour displayed a marked affinity with the lubok, the Russian folk picture or broadside. The range of Gzhel majolica included virtually the entire assortment of domestic utensils, such as breakfast and soup plates, dinner-services, mugs, tankards, and pitchers. More often that was only white-glazed earthenware devoid of decoration; however it was prized precisely because of its hygienic whiteness.

“Syssertiv Farfor” Porcelain Factory

The enterprise, which now produces porcelain tableware and sculpture, was founded on the basis of «Promcooperator» Guild, existed since 1942. First the Guild manufactured earthenware, but from the late 40-ies it came close to renovation of porcelain industry, which had definite traditions in Sysert’ – a small porcelain manufacture existed there as far back as the late 19th – the early 20th century. At present the enterprise produces decorative sculpture on subjects of folk fairy-tales of the Urals Russian narrative poems and ballads; tea- and coffee-sets, decorative vases. Usually the articles are decorated with underglaze painting, but sometimes overglaze painting is applied. Soft brownish-grey and light blue tones are mostly used in painting. Ornamental concepts are often found in the landscapes of the Urals.

The younger generation of artists and technologists works much at technology improvement; they are taking a great interest in manufacture of unique articles of modern shapes. About 480 people work at the enterprise; annual production output is about 1,5 million pieces.

Collections of Sysert’ artworks are represented in many museums of the Russian Federation. These articles are rewarded with diplomas of different exhibitions.

“Farfor Verbilok”

Verbilki porcelain always occupied an honorary position in the history of Russian porcelain industry.The Manufactory was founded in 1754 by merchant F. Ya. Gardner; it was the first private enterprise, which manufactured high-quality production. These articles were exposed at All-world exhibitions in Paris and Bruxelles.

Contemporary handicraft industry manufactures thin-walled hand-painted porcelain, statuettes, chess sets, tea- and coffee services and other articles, which are notable for a great variety of shapes and decorative finishing’s.

These porcelain articles are represented in the collections of the principal museums of Russia. Verbilki production is always of great buyers’ demand.