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"Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter, official of Berg-Collegium", interesting Russian miniature!!, 1796/1800
Price: 5500 EUR
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The high quality of this Russian miniature on ivory allows to suggest that the artist lived in either St. Petersburg or Moscow.
It shows a relatively young (30-35 years old) man wearing the uniform of an official of Russian Berg-Collegium (Mining Board) - a re-established institution functional between December 1796 and 1807 (see our images nr.7-8). The sitter wears the Cross of Maltese Order around his neck (initially, we believed it to be the (introduced by Tsar Paul I in November 1798) cross of the Russian Order of St. Ioann of Jerusalem). On his left breast, he wears the cross of the Russian Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th class.
In order to establish the sitter's identity, we first and foremost turned to the annual issues (period between 1798 and 1801; note the sitter's apparent pigtail - a style element absent in Russia from 1802) of the Russian state calendar "Mesiatseslov". These issues list all Russian officials and their (already accumulated) awards - both Russian and foreign.
Unfortunately, the copies of Mesiatseslov that are available on the Web (from 1725 to 1862) do not include the issues of the years between 1797 and 1801 (i.e. precisely those covering the period of this miniature's execution!). We were hence forced to turn to the first available copy of Mesiatseslov following 1801 - the issue of 1802.
Much to our dismay, in its registry of serving officials of Berg-Collegium, we discovered no persons in possessions of both aforementioned awards. This could be explained as follows: either the man we were looking for had already retired from service (or even passed away) by 1802, or he had been transferred to another office (and had thus worn a different uniform by then).
As a result of thorough research of Russian Web resources, we were able to discover a man, who until November 3, 1789 occupied a high-ranking post in Berg-Collegium (on that date, he is known to have retired from the Collegium; on January 5, 1801, he was awarded the Cavalier (Knight's) Cross of St. Ioann of Jerusalem). Widely known from numerous modern publications, he was Philipp Philippovich Ridder - "ober-gittenfervalter" (high rank in mining board).
However, his suitability could not be taken into account: we learned that on September 24, 1804, he made a petition to the Tsar (the son of Paul I and his successor) Alexander I), asking the latter to award him "long-deserved" Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th class (the possession of this award would have resulted in extra 100 rubbles of annual pension). His request was not granted.
Nearly losing all hope of finding a suitable mining official awarded both orders (and having no direct access to Russian archives), we have finally decided to search for such official (awardee of exactly these two awards!) in Russia's other state offices. We have come across several citizens of Moscow and St. Petersburg who fit our search criteria. Some of them had to be dismissed due their (much higher) age or based on their known (existing) portraits. Only one of these men prompted us to "dig dipper".
He turned out to be an engineer-colonel of the Military Collegium by the name Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter. Further research had offered information that persuaded us to believe him to be the man in question.
Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter was the son of Ivan Ivanovich Schlatter - a mining engineer and, from 1796, "nadvorny sovetnik" (court councillor) in Moscow Mint Office. Moreover, his grandfather - Ivan Andreevich (Johann Wilhelm) Schlatter (see our image nr.10) was between 1760 and 1767 the President of Berg-Collegium.
In his turn, in 1794, Fedor Ivanovich (by then, he was already - same as Philipp Philippovich Ridder - an "ober-gittenfervalter" (this rank comes from German "Ober-Hüttenverwalter" - director of metallurgical plant) was appointed chief manager of "Gornoblagodatski Zavody" (a facility of several neighboring metallurgical plants in Ural region - each encompassing own mine development; see our images nr.11-13). He remained in that function until May 19, 1796, for it is known that on this day he arrived in St. Petersburg (sic!) to occupy a new post: he was to start as a councillor (deputy director) of the newly-established "Head Spedition of Re-coining of Copper Coins" (see our image nr.14 and CLICK HERE) with a high annual salary of 600 rubbles. In December of the same (1796) year, this organization became one of the sub-offices of then re-established Berg-Collegium (sic!).
We have also learned that in the late 1797, Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter, in charge of a five-specialist-team, was sent to Soho (London) in order to acquire the competence of copper coining (see image nr.15). Due to illness (hypochondria), his return to Russia was delayed, and he came back to St. Petersburg in the 2nd half of 1798. Earliest in 1799 - latest in 1801, Fedor Ivanovich was awarded his Cavalier Cross of St. Ioann of Jerusalem (by then he was already the recipient of Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th class). We were certain that he commissioned the portrait, which is presented here, just after receiving St. Ioann of Jerusalem.
It would have seen that Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter fits all our search criteria, had it not been for one nuance: why would a "Cavalier" of St. Ioann Order wear the cross around his neck (like "Commander" cross) and not on his left breast as suggested by protocol and status of this order?
In order to clarify this matter, we have consulted with Russia's leading expert and author of numerous publications on Russian Order of St. Ioann, Michail Asvarishch (State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg). The latter had kindly and promptly replied with unexpectedly in-depth materials (see our image nr.19-20).
First of all, Mr. Asvarishch informed us that - after performing extensive search and dismissing other "candidates" - he too had determined the sitter to be Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter (!). His letter to us was accompanied by the Schlatter's service list, from which we learned the most important details, namely that:
a) Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter was born in 1768 (in the period between 1799 and 1801, he was at the age of 31-33, which is in full accordance with the sitter's visual age!) and died after 1810.
b) He received the Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th class on March 11, 1794.
c) He received his Cavalier Cross of St. Ioann of Jerusalem not from Paul I but much earlier (!!!). On April 3, 1796 (shortly before he arrived to St. Petersburg - see above), he was knighted (raised to "Cavalier") into the (virtually foreign in Russia) Order of St. John (Maltese Order; CLICK HERE) by Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc - the order's Grand Master (CLICK HERE).
Four years (!) later, in autumn of 1800, wishing to assist the order with its Russian Chapter (or its Russian St. Ioann branch), he placed an official petition seeking clarification as to where the cross should be actually worn (around the neck? pinned to breast?). It appears that Fedor Ivanovich had until then successfully disregarded (due to either lack of information or upon his own will) the official rules of wearing the cross). He received a reply to his application, in which he was encouraged to wear the cross "drawn through a buttonhole" (i.e. on his breast).
On October 8, 1800, he was finally included into the registry of honorable chevaliers of the Russian St. Ioann of Jeruasalem (as a result, he must have exchanged his "Maltese" cross for Russian). Our image nr.21 convincingly proves that the sitter is shown wearing the cross (with a diamond in the centre!) received from Maltese (not Russian) Order.
This exceedingly important information provided by Russia's leading expert allows us to date this miniature as painted "sometime between April 3, 1796 and October 8, 1800". We tend to believe that it was commissioned by and painted for Fedor Ivanovich Schlatter rather in 1796…
Provenance: Parisian antique trade
We are very grateful to Mr. Michael Asvarishch (St. Petersburg) and Mr. Stanislav Lyulin (Moscow uniformologist, who advised us to explore the origin of the sitter's "mining" uniform) for their generous help with our research.
Condition: fairly good; artist's own join between 11:30 and 12:30 o'clock
Creation Year: 1796/1800
Measurements:UNFRAMED:7,1x5,6cm/2,8x2,2in FRAMED: 13,1x11,3cm/5,2x4,4in
Object Type:Framed miniature
Style: Portrait miniatures
Technique: watercolor on ivory
Creator: Russian School
Creator Dates: -
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