History — Tzar's Dolls


The project ROYAL DOLLS. Reload

Traditionally, porcelain beauties in fine clothes are associated with German, French and English puppet masters. We are so used to it.
In fact, the history of this beautiful and so necessary art for adults and children is closely connected with Russia.

For example, it is widely believed that the first porcelain was created in 1705 by the German Johann Böttger.
In fact, at the source of porcelain-making was a Luzhitsky nobleman with Russian roots by the name of Chernous. Moving in 1681 in Saxony, Chernous changed his surname to the Germanic mode and became Chirnhaus.
With the financial support of the Elector of Saxony, Chirnhaus /Chernous founded a glass factory that produced unique for that time optical glass of large sizes and lenses up to 1 meter in diameter. Thanks to these inventions of the talented Slav, European scientists were able to conduct the first physical experiments with light. It was Chirnhaus /Chernous who invented European white porcelain, but after his death in 1708 laurels went to his assistant Johann Böttger — alchemist, drunkard and adventurer. And porcelain began to be called «Böttger».

Another vivid example of the most important role of Russians in puppetry is associated with the names of the two largest Russian scientists, M.V. Lomonosov and Dmitry Ivanovich Vinogradov.
The merits of the former are well known to each of us from childhood. However, not Lomonosov, who studied the sciences, including at German universities, but the simple self-taught Vinogradov, whom belonged the idea of creating the now famous for the whole world Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory. He managed to discover the secret of making «white gold», which was owned only by the Chinese, and for the first time in the history of ceramics made a scientific description of porcelain production, close to the newest concepts of ceramic chemistry. Porcelain, created by Vinogradov, was not inferior in quality to Saxon, and in terms of the composition of the mass prepared from domestic raw materials, it approached the Chinese one. Only thanks to the genius and brilliant organizational talents of D.I. Vinogradov, Russia became the third in Europe which created and produces until now «white gold» — Russian porcelain.

Vinogradov lived a short and difficult life, but he managed to write down his discoveries in the work «A thorough description of pure porcelain, as it is done in Russia under St. Petersburg, is done with the evidence of all those belonging to the works.»
The treatise was written in Russian and German and became the first theoretical work in Europe in the field of porcelain ceramics. Vinogradov was the creator of the technology of the highest quality European porcelain, from which later were produced the heads for German, French, English dolls.


Another example is the German factory for the production of dolls «Armand Marcel» — one of the most famous in the history of the «golden age of dolls.»
Alas, few people in Russia, in the world and in Germany know that this largest German master with the French name Armand Marcel was born in St. Petersburg in 1856 in the family of Russified Parisians. His father was born and lived all his life on the banks of the Neva, where he served as court architect of Nicolay the First. After the death of the emperor, the Marseilles family left Russia, and settled in the German town of Coburg, where the land was full of clay and raw materials for making porcelain. In Coburg, Armand, from a small factory for the production of dolls, over a few years turned the sleeping Thuringia into the puppet capital of Europe.
Armand all his life yearned for his homeland of Russia: on the walls of his house hung Russian icons, and over the roof proudly floated the Russian flag.
Armand warmly hosted his countrymen in his house, and preferred Russian customers, regularly sending his products to St. Petersburg.
It was the dolls of Armande who were the most favorite friends of the childhood of the daughters of Nicolay the Second.
It was the doll of Armand, the beloved friend of her childhood, who recognized Princess Anastasia when she was in Berlin.

The fate of the dolls, produced directly in Russia, did not develop as well as we would like.
Up to 1917, toy-dolls in Russia were made by wonderful Russian masters at well-organized plants of talented Russian factory managers. Zhuravlyov and Kocheshkov, Kuznetsov, Popov, the Kornilov brothers, Poskoсhin are just a small list of names of these, unfortunately, almost forgotten Russians today, which we should really be proud of.

What can we say about European historians who are generally sure that Russia has never had its own masters. But the dolls that were released in our Russian factories were also played by the tsar’s children.
Unfortunately, the revolution of 1917 did not spare the Russian doll. Her release was terminated, and the warehouses of the former Imperial Porcelain Factory were even burned by Lunacharsky’s order to destroy all pre-revolutionary dolls as «unnecessary luxury.»

It is important that Nicolay the Second brought children from his travels in Europe not just ready-made toys.
He bought the details, from which the children themselves had to make toys for themselves. Thus, the four royal daughters, under the supervision of their mother, the Empress Alexandra, were trained in simple manual labor — they sewed clothes for their dolls, knew how to build doll houses and collect miniature furniture from wooden plates and heavy paper.
Such an example from the life of the royal family with its modest life, respect for work, and deep respect for Orthodoxy is necessary for the inhabitants of modern Russia.

I, with journalist and history professor Elena Palmer, are going to devote my research to both dolls made in Russia and those dolls that were made in Europe directly for Russian, including royal children.
We have access to the well-preserved German, French and English industrial and commercial archives, we will be able to restore the way of the dolls to and from Russia.
We plan to write a book about the royal dolls (the finest, volume 5) and tell about the results of this work.
In an easy accessible form we will tell readers the history of individual dolls and their Russian masters.
I invite all fans of antique dolls to support our work and millions of people around the world will recognize you and your unique hobby and knowledge.