The Sources of Far-Eastern Motifs in Ural Artistic Iron Casting


Based on the works by the Kasli and Kusa iron factories from the collection of the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, this article explores provisional and established sources used as models for the production of cast iron pieces in “Oriental style”, both as standalone images and as decorative details. The article describes historical context and conditions that facilitated the popularity and appeal of the Far-Eastern artistic traditions to the Russian craftsmen, and examines examples of borrowings, feature transformations and perceptions of the “exotic” images by factory workers. Many items found in the museum collection reflect several waves of “oriental” fashion, which reached Russia from Europe. Despite the distance of Yekaterinburg from the metropolitan centres, these influences reached Ural cast iron makers relatively quickly due to the fact that commissions from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg customers constituted the major part of local production. The conclusions presented here are that these works, and their possible sources, provide an evidence of a close connection between the regional Ural arts and crafts and European artistic process.

Keywords: chinoiserie, Japonisme, Art Nouveau, Ural artistic cast iron, Kasli cast iron, Kusa cast iron cross-cultural communication, Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts

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