“Kelch Apple Blossom Egg” by Fabergé.
Gold, diamonds, nephrite, enamel.
St Petersburg, 1901.
Craftsman: Michael Evlampievich Perchin.
© Liechtenstein National Museum, photo Sven Beham
The Treasure Chamber Liechtenstein in Vaduz, the only museum of its kind in the Alps opened today in the capital city of Vaduz. The new museum will focus primarily on exhibits belonging to the Princes of Liechtenstein and other private collectors.
Thanks to the generosity of the Princely Family, visitors will have the chance to admire a number of items from the Princely Collections. With over 800 years of tradition, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein is not only one of the oldest ruling families in the world but also the owner of one of the world's oldest and continually expanding collections dating back more than 400 years. Its paintings by the Old Masters and array of arms are world-famous. The exhibition will display a selection of valuable materials, paintings, weapons, hunting knives and gifts presented by kings and emperors, such as Frederick the Great and Emperor Joseph II, to the Princes of Liechtenstein.
The museum will also showcase exhibits belonging to the Liechtenstein collector Adulf Peter Goop (1921-2011), who donated his significant collection to the Principality on 9 June 2010. Highlights include his famous collection of Easter eggs - the most diverse of its kind in the world - and in particular a selection of Russian Easter eggs from tsarist times unparalleled outside Russia.
One of the highlights of the museum collection is the famous Kelch Apple Blossom Egg by Karl Fabergé. Also known as Jade Crest Egg, it was one of the largest eggs created by Fabergé. The egg was a gift from Alexander Kelch to his wife, Barbara Kelch-Basanova in 1901.
Alexander Ferdinandovich Kelch was a Russian nobleman who lived in St Petersburg at the end of the 19th century. He is now known mainly as a patron of Fabergé, having commissioned seven eggs for his wife Barbara.
His wealth came from marrying his brother's widow Varvara Petrovna Bazanova, whose family had made a fortune in Siberian industry, particularly gold-mining. The Bazanov business empire collapsed after the Russo-Japanese War; the couple divorced in 1915, Varvara moving to Paris and Alexander remaining as a pauper in Russia; he was arrested and disappeared in Siberia in 1930.
The museum also features bejewelled golden Easter eggs created by other famous goldsmiths such as Pavel Akimovitch Ovtchinnikov and Alexander Edvard Tillander, gold and silver Easter eggs with intricate enamel decoration, and eye-catching porcelain and glass Easter eggs from the Imperial Manufactories. Among the latter are a number of "Tsar and Tsarina Eggs", which were commissioned each Easter by the ruling couple to present as gifts to important people.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 March, 2015