This matching pair of luxuriously decorated Kovshes date from the final decades of the Imperial period. The Kovshes were produced by the workshop of Maria Semonova and are formed of 875 grade silver with silver-gilt utilised throughout. Each Kovsh is of traditional shape, having a beaked prow and a hooked handle.
The exterior surface of each Kovsh is profusely decorated with polychrome cloisonné enamel, the cloisons set into a variety of shapes, such as scrolling arabesques, and infilled with shaded enamel in tones of red, blue, and Semenova’s idiosyncratic violet. The cloisons are bounded by silver-gilt rope twist cloison wire. The underside of each Kovsh is marked with ‘MC’ for Semonova’s workshop, ‘84’ for 87.5% silver, and several other illegible or unknown marks, such as ‘E.W.’
Maria Semenova operated a workshop in Moscow between 1896 and 1914. The workshop, which she inherited from her father Wasilij Semenov upon his death, produced a variety of silver works, Kovshes prime among them. The pieces produced in her workshop, particularly the Kovshes, are considered today to be excellent examples of silver craftsmanship of this period. Semenova’s works are noted for their traditional style and especially the use of the colour violet, both of which are attributes evident in this pair of Kovsh.