Valeri Timofeev plique-a-jour enameling art
Talented Russian jeweler Valery Timofeev (1941, Latvia – 2014, United States) was born in Latvia. He moved to Moscow in 1967 to get the art education. After graduation he got a degree in arts and crafts. Timofeev decided to become a jeweler in 1972, when he saw the work of Rasul Alikhanov, a prominent jeweler artist of Dagestan. In his work Dagestanian jeweler used techniques of engraving, filigree, cloisonn’e enamel. Technical virtuosity of his products inspired Timofeev. In the process of mastering the traditional methods, he studied the technique used by jewelers of the older generations. Works by legendary jewelers Pavel Ovchinikov, Ivan Khlebnikov, working for Faberge, are real masterpieces of plique-a-jour. He studied plique-a-jour enameling art in the museums, read and experimented, learning the secrets of the time.
Determined to revive the “lost” art, Timofeev investigated the process for a few years. Over time, he mastered the technique and the developed his own individual style. Driven by both the beauty of art in cloisonne enamel and riddles of its production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the works of outstanding masters of Faberge – Ovchinnikov, Khlebnikov, Timofeev revived and adapted the plique-a-jour enameling art.
The technique of plique-a-jour was adopted by Kievan Russia (strong trading partner of Constantinople) with other enamel techniques. Plique-à-jour tableware was used by aristocracy. Russian masters significantly developed plique-a-jour technique: in addition to cells cut in precious metal they worked with cells made of silver wire. Unfortunately the plique-à-jour technique of Kievan Russia was lost after the crushing Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Some surviving examples are exhibited in the Historical Museum in Moscow.
This filigree technique enables light to shine through the enamel like stained-glass. Russian masters predominately worked with tableware. Precious artistic tableware, decorative and applied art from the stained glass enamels always considered the top jewellery.