A superbly carved massive wooden bread dish presented to CZAR NICHOLAS II during his visit to Kiev (Ukraine) in 1896.
The border is decorated with czar’s monogram – interlaced H II A (for Nicholas II Alexandrovich) and double headed Imperial eagle.
Inscription around the center reads:
FROM THE LOYAL PEASANTS OF KIEV PROVINCE
It is an old Russian tradition to greet a dear guest with bread and salt. A loaf of bread is placed on a wooden dish and topped with a salt cellar. According to the tradition, a guest should taste a small piece of bread dipped in salt and than accept the dish. Usually, a bread dish came with a white towel decorated with greetings.
Wooden dishes presented to czar Nicholas II were kept in the Reception room of the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (Tsar’s Village). Originally, there were over 70 bread dishes on display at that palace. Majority was sold to the West by the Soviet State in the 1920s-1930s.
The interior of the Reception room with a few remaining wooden dishes is illustrated in TSARSKOE SELO THE IMPERIAL SUMMER RESIDENCE, St Petersburg, 2005, page 193. Bread dishes were also kept in the Winter Palace and the Kremlin.
THIS PARTICULAR WOODEN BREAD DISH IS PROBABLY THE FINEST OF ITS KIND. THE WOOD CARVING IS OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY.
Diameter 17 in. (43,5 cm)
Ex-Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art sale, New York, December 11, 1996, Lot 313.
The dish is signed on the back:
Artist – Carver
The dish is exceptionally well preserved.
Nicholas II is being greeted with bread and salt.