Paperweight

ca. 1866-1867 (made)
Paperweight thumbnail 1
Paperweight thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 73, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

From the 1720s, imperial and private stonecutting mills were established in Russia following the discovery of deposits of semi-precious stones. This paperweight comes from the factory of Ivan Stebakov, in Yekaterinburg, Russia, which is a key centre of mining in the Ural mountains. It was shown at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, where reports observed that Russian workshops had surpassed their Italian competitors.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Marble and various hardstones, cut and polished
Brief Description
Paperweight, grey marble and hardstones in full relief, made by manufacturer Ivan Stebakov in Yekaterinburg, Russia around 1866-67.
Physical Description
Paperweight in marble and various hardstones with fruits of raspberries, currants and other in full relief.
Dimensions
  • Length: 18.5cm
  • Width: 12cm
Gallery Label
Object history
From the 1720s, imperial and private stonecutting mills were established in Russia following the discovery of deposits of semi-precious stones. They typically used transparent stones, carved in full relief to create naturalistic compositions like these juicy fruits. This paperweight was shown at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, where reports observed that Russian workshops had surpassed their Italian competitors. It was acquired in 1869 for the Museum.
Historical context
Although the Stebakov factory encountered an International success, its short life makes it difficult to trace information. Ivan Sergeyevich Stebakov was born around 1820 and founded his lapidary factory in the Ural Mountains in 1845 or 1849. In the 1840s, he is recorded a bourgeois of Ekaterinburg, from 1853-1873 as a merchant and then as part of the guild between 1873-1876.

Stebakov tried to establish a shop in Petersburg, bringing his production directly from his Ural factory but unfortunately it did not work out as expected. He encountered success however during national and international exhibitions: he was awarded a silver medal during the Exhibition of Products of the Russian Industry in St. Petersburg, 1861; a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, 1867, where this paperweight was acquired ; and a silver at the All-Russian manufactory exhibition in 1870; and a medal of merit at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna, 1873.

According to the lists from exhibition catalogues, Stebakov seems to have produced mainly commercial and small objects such as paperweight (offered at 20 and 30 roubles a piece), small boxes (at 40 roubles), but also a few luxurious tables (100 roubles each) and a chest box (for 150 roubles). Devotional objects formed also part of the production, but no object has been identified yet in private or public collections. The factory's palette was extremely varied: malachite mosaic, variegated jasper and agate, transparent quartz.



In 1861, Stebakov is recorded as employing 25 people in his factory, dedicated to grinding and cutting stones, and another 40 outside the factory to finish the objects. The annual output of products from coloured stones reached 80,000 roubles. He was also member of several scientific societies, such as the Russian Mineralogical Society and supported the creation of the Ural Society of Esteemed Essential Knowledge. Stebakov died in April 1881, and the main part of his estate was inherited by his daughter Anastasia and son-in-law Ivan Konstantinovich Afinogenov.





Spotlight on Conservation

Although the gooseberries here look perfectly rotund and juicy, their base is in fact flat, to be set onto the black marble. At a preliminary stage they have been cut in half horizontally, carved out and filled in with metal foil to intensify their natural shine and translucence.

Subjects depicted
Summary
From the 1720s, imperial and private stonecutting mills were established in Russia following the discovery of deposits of semi-precious stones. This paperweight comes from the factory of Ivan Stebakov, in Yekaterinburg, Russia, which is a key centre of mining in the Ural mountains. It was shown at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1867, where reports observed that Russian workshops had surpassed their Italian competitors.

Bibliographic Reference
List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1869, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 75 Ludmila Budrina, 'Forgotten Names of Ural Stonecutter: Ivan Sergeevich Stebakov', Екатеринбург, 2013, pp.172-187.
Collection
Accession Number
1001-1869

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record createdMay 24, 2006
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