A porcelain figure of an Armenian woman made by the Imperial Factory
The present figurine comes from the famous “Gallery Popoff,” primarily dedicated to outstanding 18th-century porcelain. The gallery’s founder Alexander Popov (1880-1964), was a Russian personnel officer. In 1919, he emigrated to Paris and, a year later, opened a curiosity shop, which eventually became successful and famous. Popov participated in the life of the Russian artistic community in Paris and was friends with many artists and art workers.
According to the memoirs of one of the gallery’s visitors, Alexander Popov gave exact specifications about porcelain items to the touch, being an already elderly owner with poor eyesight, having assembled one of the most significant private collections of Russian porcelain located outside Russia.
Popov had an extensive collection of figures from the Peoples of Russia series, created by Jacques-Dominique Rachette (1744- 1809), the chief modeler at the Imperial Porcelain Factory during the reign of Empress Catherine II. The present figure of an Armenian woman is a scarce example, depicted in the group photograph of figures sent to the Exhibition of Russian Art in London in 1935.
Although the statuette barely demonstrates any specific Armenian feature both in terms of physique and costume, and accessories (wearing a full-length yellow dress with a purple sash, fur-decorated orange coat, Oriental turban on her head, and turquoise beaded necklace adorning her neck), and it was supposedly brightly glazed following the 18th-century European vogue of colorful porcelain figurines, however, this depiction of the female character of Armenian origin can be interpreted as an at-the-time European-Russian perception of the Armenian ethnicity.