Russian (Moscow)
late 17th century

Object Place: Russia

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gilded silver and niello

Not On View





This plate is a fine and characteristic example of the Russian use of “niello”: a technique which, although known much earlier, flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries in Moscow. A black alloy of silver, copper, lead and sulphur was applied to incised decoration on silver and fused to the surface with heat, remaining in the depressed areas; here, however, the niello was applied only to the background leaving the engraved floral designs free of black. The designs on this plate incorporating foliate arabesques, flowers and a bird are likely Oriental in inspiration, taking their influence from “Turkish” niello work done by Greek jewellers from Constantinople who immigrated to Moscow in the 1660s and worked in the workshops of the Kremlin. A parallel can be drawn between the elaborate floral motifs on this plate and the ornamental work of baroque silversmiths in Holland, England and other parts of Europe.




A la Vieille Russie, Inc., New York. by 1978, John Goelet, New York; 1978, gift of Goelet to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 15, 1978)

Credit Line

Gift of John Goelet