Rostov Finift


    Rostov Kremlin

    Rostov Kremlin

    Rostov enamel seems an obvious thing, familiar since childhood. However, it is not that simple. There is confusion in Russian names. The word finift is often confused with the word enamel; and Rostov finift with just finift. What do we think of when we hear this word? First thing that comes to mind is the brand “Rostov finift”. Second of all, the folk craft of Rostov the Great. Third, works of art made in the technique of hot enamel. Fourth is a miniature.

    Fifth is female jewelry, framed in a filigree. All these things belong to Rostov enamel and now let us turn to dictionaries. What does Wikipedia say?

    18 c. Rostov finift

    18 c. Rostov Finift

    “Rostov finift” – Russian folk art craft; exists since the XVIII century in the city of Rostov Yaroslavl region. Miniature images are made on enamel with transparent refractory paints, invented in 1632 by the French jeweler Jean Tuten.

    And what do the more respectable old publications say?

    Russian Encyclopaedic Dictionary: “Finift is the same as enamel”

    Dictionary of Dal: “Finift – enamel or watering for metal”

    But the concept of EMAL is also not simple. It is often confused with enamel paints for cars and construction.

    Furthermore, it is the most common definition used by people outside the art field.  

    18 c. Rostov finift

    18 c. Rostov Finift

    A. Zaitsev-Kartavtsev gives a more complete definition of enamel in his book “Rostov Enamel. 18 century”:

    “The Russian word “finift” comes from the Greek” finigitis “, which in translation means a bright, shiny stone”. Finift, which in Europe is called enamel, is a special kind of applied art in which the material, in the form of a glassy mass, colored by metal oxides”.

    That is, an art form that uses glass as a paint. However, the word enamel is of French origin. It means any and all  things that have been made with glass paints for several millennia, long before the 18th century. It turns out that the concept of Rostov finift is a part of the broader concept of enamel.

    21 c. Rostov finift

    21 в. Rostov Finift, N.Smirnova

    We say cloisonne, chamfered, stained glass, modern enamel. And this is just in terms of technology. But the concept of Rostov finifti is not just a technology! This is a certain style that has its own attributes and boundaries. For instance, we can draw an analogy with oil. Oil is a kind of art that uses oil as a paint. But in oil, there are several styles: Barroco Impressionism, and miniature. And these are completely different things. But they are all written in oil. We need to distinguish the concept of the brand, the name of the national craft, that has its clear boundaries from the name of the technique and understand what we are now talking about: technology or style. And try not to confuse them.

    So, it turns out there is FINIFT (artwork in the broadest sense of the word), there is ENAMEL, that is more often used in the names of glossy colors and less often as an artwork of Western origin, and there is ROSTOVSKAYA FINIFT – the folk craft, brand.

    18 c. Rostov finift

    18 c. Rostov Finift, miter

    Therefore, here we are talking about modern technology of enamel. I will leave the narrow understanding of the finift- style folk craft to the masters and art critics of the craft.To call finift enamel or vice versa correct from the material point of view. To call the technique of today modern is correct as well. To avoid confusion with the brand, I will not refer to the work created in the city of Rostov the Great as Rostov finift. I will refer to them simply as finift or enamel. So, modern finift, enamel, artistic enamel or hot enamel are all one and the same technique or material. On this page, I show different examples of finift (artistic enamel). The photographs are arranged in the following order: from the top – the 18th century – Rostov finift, the 18th century – the Rostov finift, the 21st century – the Rostov finift, the 18th century – the Rostov finift, the 18th century – the Ustiug finift, the Czech enamel – the 18th century, the Czech enamel – the 21st century (on steel). And 3 enamels in the bottom row – the M. Selishchev’s works.

    18 c. Rostov finift

    Finift from Ustug. 18 век

    What enamel is presented at the art gallery “Khors”?

    Art Gallery “Khors” presents the art of postmodernism in the technology of enamel, conducts exhibitions of experimental finift-enamel and shows the most diverse enamel collection in Rostov the Great. This is an enamel panel on copper and steel. Enamel is in combination with wood, stone, ropes and other materials. It is always the author’s enamel, made by one master from beginning to end in a single copy. Here you will not see souvenirs, jewelry and print production.
    In the gallery “Khors” you can participate in a day master class, where the artist Mikhail Selishchev will tells the history of enamel from antiquity to the present day, explains how enamel differs from enamel painting (Rostov enamel), and demonstrate how to burn enamel.

    You will  take home with your own finished work.

    18 c. czech enamel

    18 с. Czech enamel. Casket


    What is the main difference between Rostov finift and enamel?

    Both are enamel. But Rostov finift is a national craft, miniature painting, enamel painting, brand. The other is a broader concept, that includes Rostov finift. There are many kinds of enamel. In everyday use, enamel is called the modern art of enamel.

    21 c. Czech enamel

    21 с. Czech enamel.

    What is the difference between artistic enamel and hot enamel?

    If we are just talking about a work of art, then nothing. The common confusion comes from the names. One is translated to English as “art enamel”, the other is not (there is no such term as hot enamel in English). Therefore, “hot enamel”, “enamel”, and “artistic enamel” all translates to English as “art enamel”. The main meaning of the name “hot” is to emphasize that it is not “cold”. It is worth noting, however, that “cold” enamel never enters the art-making process but is rather roasting at a 850C degrees temperature. That is why, it would be more correct to call it “artistic enamel”, the concept of which includes “Rostov finift”. 

    However, “Rostov finift” should be translated as a brand, name – “Rostov finift”.

    ENAMEL. History and technology

    “Enamel” (from the French word émail, Old Russian – enamel) – a strong glassy coating applied to a metal object and fixed by roasting “- Russian Encyclopedic Dictionary.
    For a wide range of viewers, artistic enamel is little known, but works made in this fiery technique adorn the best museum collections in the world: the Moscow Kremlin, the Hermitage, the Louvre Museum and many others. The art of enamel of ancient China, India and Byzantium is well known. In Russia, Rostov enamel is famous.
    Originating in ancient Egypt and being one of the oldest materials, along with glass and ceramics, enamel has evolved over the centuries, and techniques of cloisonné, etched, stained-glass enamel have appeared. All this – colored glass, laid on a sheet of copper, silver or gold, and burned in a special mode. This is a long and complex technological process: each layer is applied separately, dried and burnt at a 850C degrees temperature.

    As a result of metal-glass bonding, an environmentally resistant and durable coating is obtained: it does not fade, does not rot and possesses the properties of glass and metal at the same time.
    In the Middle Ages in Europe enamel was considered an elite art: enamel decorated crowns and miter of kings and patriarchs. In the twentieth century, scientific and technological progress gave a technological impetus to the development of technology: enamel paints became more accessible, the sizes of products increased, the color palette was enriched. Modern artistic enamel has rich possibilities for experiment, combining both familiar and completely new, unexpected techniques. An important detail is its design. Traditionally it was silver or gold. In the 21st century, artists combine enamel in various combinations, both with precious metals, and with new materials, such as plastic, wood, leather.

    A variety of artists are attracted to enamel because of its bright and lush colors, its diversity and compatibility. Mikhail Selishchev is one of them. Having received a good academic education in Moscow (specialty – painting in architecture), he went on the path of creativity and experiment. This explains the passion for the ancient fiery technique of enamel.
    M.Selishchev’s report “Experimental enamel“

    What is master class on enamel and Why does it last 8 hours instead of usual 1 hour? 

    Every master class is very individual, because it is a master class from a Master. Regular 1-hour classes are offered by  tour operators who are always in a hurry and want to show Rostov in one day. Now why do I offer a full one day master class? Because I want to give you the basics of the enamel craftsmanship and to open the door to this amazing world of glass paints and fire. I can not do it faster. My master class includes the history of the enamel, the theory and the entire initial process of enamel creation (master classes offered by others skip this important stage and do it for students in advance). All participants will learn how to work with a stove and fire, how to distinguish and explain the difference between Rostov and modern enamel, Everyone will become familiar with the workflow process.
    I consider this to be extremely important initial skills and knowledge. I judge this from my own experience, when I started, I really missed having this knowledge, and there was nobody to learn from. I was making many unnecessary movements and mistakes. I wasted a lot of time and energy.
    So to avoid all these mistakes you need  my master class.
    Another special thing about my master class: I try to teach students to talk to fire, play and experiment with it.Believe me, this is a very fascinating process!
    And those who catch this sensation, will never want to part with it.
    And of course one more important point!
    Every participant will leave with two of their works in the technique of enamel-finift.


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