The value placed on materials differs between cultures. In the West and in Asia, gold and precious stones are highly valued, costly, and therefore demonstrate their owners’ wealth, extravagance, and power. Combined with fine craftsmanship, these materials carry even greater meaning.
This gold and smoky topaz vase, made by one of the most renowned shops in Russia, was given by the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich to Elizabeta Baletta, prima ballerina at the Imperial Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Its purpose was never to hold flowers, but to express the power and status of the giver and transfer wealth, in the form of a highly visible status symbol, to the recipient. In a little over a hundred years, the vase has moved from a royal patron to a celebrity, to a wealthy collector, and, ultimately, to public view at the Museum.
Topaz, copper alloy, and gold plating
Probably after 1896
7 7/8 x 4 7/16 x 3 13/16 in. (20 x 11.3 x 9.7 cm) (show scale)
"M11" on base
This item is not on view
Bequest of Helen Babbott Sanders
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Michael Evlampeivich Perchin (Russian, 1860-1903). Vase, Probably after 1896. Topaz, copper alloy, and gold plating, 7 7/8 x 4 7/16 x 3 13/16 in. (20 x 11.3 x 9.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Helen Babbott Sanders, 78.129.18. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 78.129.18a-b_view2_SL1.jpg)
overall, 78.129.18a-b_view2_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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