Important Silversmiths – Pavel Ovchinnikov

Pavel Ovchinnikov (in Russian: Павел Акимович Овчинников) was one of the most famous Russian silversmiths of his time and an exceptional businessman.

He was born in Moscow province in 1830, from a family of modest origins: his father was a serf. Nevertheless Pavel was sent to study in Moscow by Prince Dimitri Volkonski, where he was apprenticed in a jewellery shop.

In 1850 he gained his freedom and three years later he founded his own workshop. In his factory he employed more than a hundred men, and in 1865 he was appointed Court supplier to the future Tzar Alexander III. His works were exhibited at the Pan-Russian manufacturing exhibition in 1865 where he won the gold medal and at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1867. Few years later he was appointed court supplier by the king of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II and the king of Denmark Christian IX.

In 1873 Ovchinnikov opened a branch in St. Petersburg and by 1881 over three hundred people were working for the firm.

Understanding the importance of education, he founded a professional school at his factory for training artists and craftsmen in silverware and jewellery.

Pavel died in 1888 and his sons Mikhail, Alexander, Pavel and Nikolai took over the company until 1917, when the firm ceased trading due to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution.

Ovchinnikov is particularly famous for his fine enamel works: he developed different processing techniques (cloisonné, champleé and on watermark) giving them prestige and popularity all over Europe.

Nowadays his works are represented at the most important international museums and royal collections.