Gzhel Ceramics

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gzhel’ Ceramics


products of ceramics enterprises in the vicinity of the Gzhel’ railroad station, in Ramenskoe Raion, Moscow Oblast.

Gzhel’ ceramics attained a high artistic level in the second half of the 18th century when the “black” (plain) and “glazed” (enameled) pottery was replaced by majolica (kvass pitchers, kumgany [tall pitchers with spouts], plates, toys, and the like) decorated with original designs of many colors on white enamel and sometimes with highly generalized modeled figurines marked by the folk craftsmen’s rich imagination and keenness of vision. In the early 19th century Gzhel’ turned to the manufacture of china, faience, and semifaience. (“Bronzeware” that has a dressy golden luster is a variety of semifaience.) From 1830 to 1840, almost half of all the china-faience enterprises in Russia were concentrated in Gzhel’. In the 19th century, semifaience with blue monochromatic designs and china—known as lubok (colorful cheap tea dishes and genre figurines, full of folk humor and based on lubok pictures [cheap popular prints]) —produced by small peasant workshops retained their artistic originality. During the Soviet era the Gzhel’ enterprises have been manufacturing dishes, sculptures, and architectural items. The 19th-century traditions of Gzhel’ ceramics are being continued by the Turygino Plant for Artistic Ceramics. The Turygino china has rounded bulky forms resembling the work of folk potters and is hand painted with broad brushstrokes in luscious blues on a white background. The leading artists are N. I. Bessarabova and L. P. Azarova.


Saltykov, A. B. Gzhel’skaia keramika. Moscow, 1949.
Saltykov, A. B. Maiolika Gzheli. Moscow, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.