Baltimoreans will soon have a chance to view enameled Russian silver that dates from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. Art collector Jean Montgomery Riddell bequeathed over 250 pieces to the Walters Art Museum. This generous gift came to the museum after she died last year at age 100.
Riddell was a noted art patron who, when she was young, studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League in New York. After she married and moved to Washington DC she became active in the local arts scene. Riddell collected these pieces over 50 years, continuing a collection that her husband began before he died. Many believe that Riddell had one of the best collections of Russian enameled art in America.
Most intriguing to some is that the collection included pieces made by the firm of Carl Fabregè, though none of the famous Fabregè eggs are included. There are a few enamels from the Fabregè studio in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, the collection contains many more works, about 30 or 40, from Fabregè in Moscow.
The Walters already owns two Fabregè Easter eggs. One is the Gatchina Palace Egg, which, when open, displays a tiny model of the Dowager Empress’s home near St. Petersburg. Another is the Rose Trellis egg, which is decorated with a vine and floral motif.
The Walters is planning a touring exhibition in 2015, which will feature pieces from this collection. But, you don’t have to wait to see the new works as the museum already has about 12 pieces on display for the public.