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Monday, 13 April 2015
Imperial Russian Splendour at Sotheby's
Topic: Faberge


Photo: A Fabergé Imperial Presentation jewelled gold cigarette case by workmaster August Holmström of St Petersburg (Lot 60), of rounded rectangular form, the exterior partially covered with a samorodok surface, the upper left corner with a gem-set imperial cypher of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920). c. 1895. 8.3cm long. Estimate: $20,000-30,000. Photo © Sotheby's
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 13, 2015 edition of The Telegraph. The author Judith Miller, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 
 

Exquisite Fabergé artefacts are among the lots at Sotheby's sale of Russian treasures from the late Romanov period

When it comes to that heady combination of excellence and opulence in the decorative arts, there are a few places and periods that stand head-and-shoulders above others. A-list examples in the last millennium include Ming Dynasty China from the late 14th to the mid-17th century; the Italian city states of the Renaissance; France from the mid-17th to the late 18th century, under the reigns of Louis XIV (the Sun King), Louis XV, and Louis XIV; and – the focus here – pre-Revolutionary Russia around the turn of the 20th century, during the last decades of the Romanov dynasty and prior to the establishment of the Soviet Union.

Common to all were a powerful ruling elite of royal, aristocratic, and merchant classes for whom patronage of the decorative arts was not simply an aesthetic indulgence, but also an ostentatious display of wealth and status. With money either no, or virtually no object, it’s hardly surprising that the artefacts produced for uber-rich patrons by the master-craftsmen of their respective era were, simply, fabulous.

You will be pleased to know, therefore, that on Thursday 16th April there’s a great opportunity – provided your pockets are of suitable depth – to purchase some of the surviving artefacts from the late Romanov period. Specifically, Sotheby’s in New York are holding an "Important European Silver, Vertu, and Russian Works of Art" sale, and while it will include some wonderful non-Russian pieces – notably, a fine collection of European gold boxes, a lovely selection of English Georgian silver, and some stunning 20th-century Italian jewellery, objets vertu, and silverware by Buccellati, of Milan – it is the 134 Russian lots that really stand out for me.

Apart from furniture, most collecting fields are catered for. They include Christian icons; ceramics, notably from the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, of St. Petersburg; bronze figures and carved hardstone figures; imperial medals and badges; and photographs of Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II. Better still, at least to me, are the gold, silver, and enameled pieces – decorative table wares, jewellery, and objets vertu, a small selection of which I have chosen for illustration here – that are, stylistically, uniquely Russian, and in that sense perfectly encapsulate the distinctive aesthetics of both the time and place.

Of course, their desirability also resides in the most exquisite craftsmanship, and when that carries the Fabergé brand – as it does with many of the lots – then desirability is elevated to an even higher level. Founded in St. Petersburg in 1842,  bestowed in 1885 with the coveted title "Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown", and best-known for its gold, silver, enameled, and gemstone incrusted Imperial Easter Eggs, the House of Fabergé’s personification of master-craftsmanship resonates to this day, and will ensure not only huge interest in the sale, but also, probably, the exceeding of estimated prices.

Important European Silver, Vertu, and Russian Works of Art starts at 10 am on Thursday 16th April at Sotheby's New York. 
 
© Judith Miller / The Telegraph. 13 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:43 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2015 7:54 AM EDT
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Thursday, 9 April 2015
World of Faberge: Stone Carving Theory and Practice
Topic: Faberge


Photo © Fabergé Museum. Banner created by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
 
The Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia have announced plans for an international conference “World of Fabergé: Stone Carving Theory and Practice”, to be held September 2015.

Fabergé Museum, home of the world-renowned collection of jewelry, decorative, and applied art, brings together Russian and global artistic community. Art lovers and professionals from Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, USA and other countries are coming to St. Petersburg to attend this important conference. Museum experts, curators, art historians, artists and collectors will have the opportunity for discussions and exchange of ideas, and will be able to discover new developments in the research, preservation and collecting of stone carving art, both antique and contemporary.

The three-day program at the White Column Hall of the Shuvalov Palace will feature such prominent speakers as members of Fabergé Museum’s Advisory Board* along with leading Russian and foreign experts in the art of stone carving.
 
*Vladimir Voronchenko, Tatyana Muntyan, Marina Lopato, and Valentin Skurlov (Russia), Mark Schaffer, Géza von Habsburg (USA), Alexander von Solodkoff (Germany), Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm (Finland), Kieran McCarthy (UK)

The event will cover a broad range of problems related to historical and contemporary stone carving practices. The following topics are proposed for discussion: 

  • Russian stone carving in the context of domestic and foreign artistic traditions 
  • Stone carving art in a museum and at an auction
  • Challenges attributing and authenticating stone carving art
  • Theory and practice of preserving and restoring miniature stone carvings in Russia and Europe
  • Collectible stone carvings
  • Current artistic practices in stone carving

Conference organizers are encouraging members of the museum, artistic, collecting and research communities to take active interest in the event and to contribute to the program.

In order to apply for participation, please follow this link to open the registration form. Please submit your completed forms by July 1, 2015. Please send abstracts and papers for publication to conference@fabergemuseum.ru by September 1, 2015. The complete conference program will be announced by September 20, 2015. 
 
© Fabergé Museum. 09 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:51 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 9 April 2015 9:59 AM EDT
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Monday, 6 April 2015
Faberge Thief Pleads Guilty In London Courtroom
Topic: Faberge


Christie's London
 
A thief who stole £800,000 worth of rare Imperial Russian court Fabergé objects and jewellery from Christies Auctioneers last December, has gone on trial in London. Richard Tobin, 45, a Glaswegian confessed to the theft from the west end auction house. 

Southwark Crown Court were told that there is still no sign of the missing items. Jack Talbot the suspect's defence lawyer added: "He accepts he took the items. It may be part of the mitigation that he did not know their value." Judge Owen Davies explained to the defendant : "What happened to the property is uppermost in the court's mind. "The court does not have time to consider carefully your case so you will be appearing via video link on April 8. "You will be remanded in custody and you face a long prison sentence."

The bejewelled gold Faberge clock is worth an estimated £125,000. It was created in St Petersburg, at the turn of the 20th century. Other items still missing include a Faberge Jasmine flower in silver gilt, valued at £550,000, a Faberge carved bulldog, a carved cockerel both valued at £25,000 and rings worth £20,000. The court also were told about a silver gilt aquamarine necklace estimated at £35,000.

The workshop of Peter Carl Fabergé became internationally famous for the magnificent jewel-bedecked Easter eggs it created specifically for the Imperial Court of Russia between 1885 and 1916. Made from sparkling gemstones and precious metals, the Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs were produced by a team of highly skilled craftsmen, with each individual egg taking over a year to produce. But the workshop was also known for its small items, jewels and clocks.

© artlyst and The Observer. 06 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:46 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 April 2015 8:48 AM EDT
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Saturday, 4 April 2015
Hunt for the Priceless Faberge Lost Easter Egg Treasures of the Russian Tsars
Topic: Faberge


The largesse of Romanov jewels and 13 Imperial Easter Eggs exhibited by the Bolsheviks, 1923
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 3, 2015 edition of The Mirror. The author Rachael Bletchly, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 
 

On Easter Sunday 1885, Russian Tsar Alexander III presented his wife with a bejewelled egg to mark both the religious holiday and the 20th anniversary of their engagement.

Empress Maria Fedorovna was enchanted by the gift – a white enamel shell encasing a golden yolk which contained a shimmering hen, which in turn concealed a miniature diamond crown and ruby pendant.

Alexander rewarded the man who made it by appointing him Goldsmith to the Imperial Crown.

And over the next three decades Peter Carl Fabergé, a jobbing St Petersburg jeweller, would design 50 lavish and glittering Easter eggs for Alexander and his son, Nicholas II.

But the gaudy gifts, some costing 40 times a worker’s annual wage, became symbols of the wealth, power, corruption and greed that led to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the assassination of the Russian royal family a year later.

Encrusted with diamonds, yet spattered with blood, their unique history made Fabergé ’s treasures irresistible to art collectors and have sparked a £200million Easter Egg hunt.

Today, 43 of these burnished baubles are held in museums and private collections around the world.

But the other seven are still missing.
 
It used to be eight, but last year an American scrap-metal dealer bought what he thought was a tacky gold ornament at a bric-a-brac stall.

He was planning to melt it down, but Googled its markings first.

At which point he discovered it was the Third Imperial Easter Egg, made in 1887 and worth an astonishing £20million.

Kieran McCarthy of London jewellers Wartski flew to the USA to verify it.

“I knew instantly that was it,” he says. “I was flabbergasted – it was like being Indiana Jones and finding the Lost Ark.”

The egg was sold to a mystery buyer, but its rediscovery has raised the tantalising prospect that seven others are sitting on humble mantlepieces – unidentified nest-eggs worth up to £30million each.

Some could have been destroyed in the chaos following the Russian Revolution. But if the eggs do reappear they will send shock waves through the art world.

Kieran explains: “Insuring a Fabergé egg today costs £27-to-£33million. They rarely come up for sale.

"You have far more chance of buying a Van Gogh or a Picasso. If the lost eggs all survived in good condition, they could easily be worth £200 million.”
 

Toby Faber, author of Fabergé ’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces that Outlived an Empire, also believes more will resurface.

He says: “When the Kremlin archives were opened up in the 1990s people were able to research the eggs properly.

"These seven were all owned by Maria Fedorovna, who survived the revolution and came to England before returning to her native Denmark.”

The 50 Imperial Eggs were painstakingly fashioned by Fabergé between 1895 and 1917. He made 15 more for other wealthy clients and 14 of those survive.

Alexander commissioned one every Easter for Maria and after his death, Nicholas bought them for his own wife Alexandra AND his mother.

Each had to contain a surprise – a piece of jewellery, clock or tiny portrait – and the shells became ever more elaborate.

The Tercentenary Egg, made in 1913 to mark 300 years of Romanov rule, featured gold, silver, diamonds, turquoise and ivory.

It cost 21,300 roubles at a time when the average Russian wage was 500 a year.

So, when harvests failed and hunger gripped the vast empire at the start of the 20th century, the eggs became symbols of an out-of-touch dynasty ripe for toppling.

In 1917 Nicholas II was forced to abdicate and was exiled to Siberia with Alexandra and their five children.

As the Bolsheviks ransacked royal palaces many Fabergé eggs were packed off to the Kremlin Armoury, but some disappeared.

On July 17, 1918, the Tsar and his family were executed by firing squad in Yekaterinberg.

His daughters Tatiana, 21, Maria,19, and Anastasia, 17, were the last to die.

They had hidden some diamonds and, allegedly, Fabergé eggs, inside their clothes and the bullets pinged off them. They were run through with bayonets instead.

Communist leader Lenin had the Rom­­anov treasures stashed away.

The House of Fabergé was nationalised and Carl fled to Switzerland, where he died in 1920.

But in the 1930s Lenin’s successor Joseph Stalin began selling artworks to the West, including at least 14 Fabergé eggs, as part of his Treasures for Tractors programme.

Some were bought by his friend, the US oil magnate Armand Hammer.

The 43 eggs are now in collections in Moscow, America, Germany, Qatar and Monaco. Three are owned by the Queen.

Dowager Empress Maria, owner of the seven missing eggs, was the sister of England’s Queen Alexandra and in 1919 her nephew George V sent a warship to rescue her.

She lived in London and Sand­­ring­­ham before returning to Denmark.

Toby Faber thinks one, the Royal Danish egg, could be in Copenhagen. Nicholas sent it to his mother at Easter 1903 while she was in Denmark.

And both experts believe the Nécessaire egg and Cherub with Chariot could turn up at any time,

Kieran said: “We can trace both until relatively recently. The Cherub was in America in 1934 and 1941. And Wartski sold the Nécessaire in London in 1952.

A man walked in off the street and paid £1,250 in cash. He was listed simply as ‘A Stranger’. I’m sure the egg is still in Britain. It’s an amazing treasure hunt.”

If the lost eggs are found they’re likely to be snapped up by Russian oligarchs.

“Imperial Fabergé eggs are the ultimate prize again,” says Kieran, “They are the target for buyers wanting to reflect their riches.

"That’s the ultimate irony. They have come full circle and are symbols of wealth and power once more.”

In 2004 oil and gas tycoon Viktor Vekselberg paid “just” £68million for a US tycoon’s nine imperial eggs. Two would cost the same today.

And in 2007 Russian billionaire Alexander Ivanov paid £9 million for a Faberge egg made in 1902.

Last year he gave it to President Vladimir Putin, who donated it to St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

Kieran adds: “We’d given up hope of finding any more Fabergé eggs until last year and that was like a lottery win.

“But a couple have won the lottery for a second time this week, so....?

“I’m sure someone has a fortune, possibly nestling under their bed. All they have to do is look for it.”
 

Is one of these sitting on your mantelpiece?

* Hen With Sapphire Pendant (1886): Golden hen studded with rose diamonds plucking sapphire egg from nest. Last seen in the Kremlin’s Armory Palace in 1922.
 
* Cherub With Chariot (1888): Angel pulling chariot containing an egg. Studded with sapphire and diamonds. Angel-shaped clock “surprise”. Probably bought by Armand Hammer. Possibly sold again in 1941.
 
* Nécessaire (1889): Gold egg with rubies, sap­­phires, emeralds, and diamonds. Inside were 13 diamond beauty accessories. It got to England and was in first Fabergé exhibit­­ion in 1949. Bought for £1,250 in 1952.
 
* Mauve (1897): Mauve enamel with rose-cut diamonds and pearls and a “surprise” of heart-shaped frames with portraits of Nicholas, Alexandra and their first child, Olga. Frames are in a collection.
 
* Empire Nephrite (1902): Made of mineral nephrite. Diamond-studded golden base hides a tiny portrait of Alexander III. Possibly exhibited in London in 1935. One author claimed in 2004 that the egg had been found. Most experts disagree.
 
* Royal Danish (1903): Enamel and gold, with precious stones, heraldic lions and royal arms with jubilee portraits of king and queen of Denmark, Maria’s parents.
 
* Alexander III Commemorative (1909): Platinum, gold and white enamel with lozenge-shaped diamond clusters containing a gold bust of Alexander. Known only from a single black-and- white photo and not seen since before the Russian Revolution.
 
In January 2015, Royal Russia published the following article on the lost Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs: 

Faberge's Lost Treasures, Still Waiting To Be Found 

© Rachael Bletchly / The Mirror. 04 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:56 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 April 2015 8:48 AM EDT
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Where to See the Fabled Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs
Topic: Faberge

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 3, 2015 edition of Smithsonian.com. The author Matt Blitz, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

Remnants of a vanished past, Fabergé Easter eggs live on in museums and collections across the world

Most people get chocolate bunnies or plastic candy-filled eggs as presents on Easter, but for Russian czars at the turn of the 20th century, gifts were lot more expensive—and much less edible. In 1885, Czar Alexander III commissioned 38-year-old Carl Faberge and his St. Petersburg family jewelry business to produce a surprise Easter gift for his wife, Empress Marie Fedorovna. Fabergé designed a beautiful white enamel egg encasing a gold “yolk,” with a pure gold hen enclosed inside like a Russian nesting doll. Inside the hen was a mini diamond replica of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg pedant.

Known as the “Hen Egg,” it became the first of 50 Fabergé Imperial eggs produced over 32 years. The violent Russian revolutions of 1917 saw the end of this extravagant tradition, with the czars overthrown, the Fabergé family fleeing Russia and many of the eggs confiscated by the Bolsheviks.

Today, these rare, million-dollar Easter eggs have found their way into collections, museums and institutions across the world, from Moscow to Cleveland. For example, the Hen Egg is now part of the Vekselberg Collection (named for Russian oil and metal mogul Viktor Vekselberg, who purchased nine eggs from the Forbes family in 2004), and currently housed in the 18-month-old Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Not all of the eggs have been located, however, and seven are currently thought lost to history. Just over a year ago, that number was believed to be eight. Another egg came to light after a scrap metal dealer perusing a flea market in the American Midwest came upon a gold egg on an intricately designed stand. Inside was a gold watch with diamond-encrusted hands. Thinking he could make at least a few hundred dollars from the melted gold, he purchased the item for $14,000. Despite his rather large investment, potential buyers told him the gold wasn’t worth what he paid. The man (who has remained anonymous) left the egg in his kitchen, thinking he had just thrown $14,000 away, until one day he got curious enough to Google the name on the back of the watch—“Vacheron Constantin.” After a bit more digging, he came upon this 2011 Telegraph article about the Third Imperial Easter Egg. That’s when he discovered this gold egg wasn’t worth $14,000; it was worth millions. 
 

© Matt Blitz / Smithsonian.com. 04 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:11 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 April 2015 6:37 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 31 March 2015
New Liechtenstein Museum Showcases Faberge Egg
Topic: Faberge

“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
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:29 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 March 2015 6:49 AM EDT
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Sunday, 29 March 2015
Faberge's Flowers Bloom at London Exhibition
Topic: Faberge


Whether a sacred sanctuary, a place for scientific study, a haven for the solitary thinker or a space for pure enjoyment and delight, gardens are where man and nature meet. Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden reveals the way in which gardens have been celebrated in art across four centuries.

Bringing together paintings, botanical studies, drawings, books, manuscripts and decorative arts, the exhibition explores the changing character of the garden from the 16th to the early 20th century. The work of Carl Fabergé is featured in this unique exhibition which opened in London earlier this week.
 
For the past century, his botanical creations for his aristocratic clients throughout Europe, including the crowned heads of Russia and England have been overshadowed by the exquisite Imperial Easter Eggs he created for the Russian Imperial family. Carved from coloured hardstones, Fabergé's flowers are set on gold stems, and embellished with jewels and enamels, these stunning pieces meticulously replicated real botanical specimens.

Nine of Fabergé's floral creations, from the Royal Collection Trust of HM Queen Elizabeth II are on display at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace in London, England. 
 

(1) Philadelphus  c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, nephrite, quartzite, olivines | 14.2 x 7.0 x 9.0 cm | RCIN 40252

Description

A design for philadelphus, closely related to this example, exists in an unpublished album of designs from Henrik Wigström’s workshop. Philadelphus, or mock orange, was well known to inhabitants of Russia – particularly in the region of St Petersburg where during the early part of July its intoxicating scent filled gardens and wafted through open windows of dachas and estates. The popularity of the flower explains why several examples were made by Fabergé.

Marked Fabergé in Cyrillic characters

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Alexandra, date unknown

(2) Pansy c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, enamel, nephrite, brilliant diamond | 10.2 x 3.3 cm | RCIN 40210

Description

All three of the pansy flower groups in the Royal Collection combine the same purple and yellow colours of enamel. The similar treatment of the petals, with variations in tone and combination of matt and polished enamel, would seem to indicate that the enamelling was completed in the same workshop. Indeed, Bainbridge asserts that all the flowers were enamelled by Alexander and Nicholas Petrov and by Boitzov, the main enamellers working for Fabergé. A drawing for a similar pansy exists in an unpublished album of designs from Wigström’s workshops.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

Provenance

Probably acquired by Queen Alexandra; in the Royal Collection by 1953

(3) Pansy c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, enamel, nephrite, brilliant diamond | 10.7 x 5.5 x 4.0 cm | RCIN 40505

Description

The pansy was almost as popular as the philadelphus in Russia, flowering in spring and early summer and during the White Nights of high midsummer. This example shows the remarkable skill of the enameller in imitating the papery matt surface of the petals. It is one of three Fabergé pansies in the Royal Collection owned by Queen Alexandra.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

Provenance

Probably acquired by Queen Alexandra; in the Royal Collection by 1953
 

(4) Convolvulus  c. 1900
Bowenite, gold, nephrite, enamel, rose diamond | 11.1 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm | RCIN 8943

Description

Convolulus, two flower heads of pale blue and two of pink enamel with one white bud, all with rose diamond centres; 13 leaves of nephrite on gold stalks climbing up an oyster enamel pole, all set in simulated soil and a bowenite trough.

King George V and Queen Mary added further examples to the remarkable collection of Fabergé flowers formed by Queen Alexandra. This study formerly belonged to Vita Sackville-West (the Hon. Mrs Nicolson, 1892–1962), the doyenne of twentieth-century English gardenwriters. The flowers are of enamelled gold centred with rose diamonds, while the leaves are of white nephrite. The plant sits in a bowenite trough, and when Queen Mary acquired it was mounted on a further base of white jade, since lost. The convolvulus was purchased from the London branch in 1908 for £35 by a member of the Sackville-West family. It was subsequently owned by Sir Bernard Eckstein, sold at Sotheby’s on 8 February 1949 and presented to Queen Mary for her birthday on 26 May 1949 by the royal family.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Bought by Hon. Vita Sackville-West (the Hon. Mrs. Harold Nicolson) from Fabergé's London branch, 30 March 1908 (£35); Sir Bernard Eckstein; Sotheby's 1949, lot 119; presented by the royal family to Queen Mary on her birthday, 26 May 1949.

(5) Rosebuds c. 1900
Gold, enamel, nephrite, rock crystal | 12.3 x 7.7 x 4.5 cm | RCIN 40216

Description

A spray of two rosebuds of opaque pink and translucent green enamel, with two sets of nephrite leaves on red gold stalks, set in a tapering vase of rock crystal. 

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Alexandra, date unknown

(6) Wild roses c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, enamel, nephrite and brilliant diamonds. | 14.8 x 7.8 x 6.4 cm | RCIN 8958

Description

A spray of three wild roses of opaque pink enamel with brilliant diamond centres and red-gold stamens, two sets of three nephrite leaves on red gold stalks in a trumpet shape rock crystal vase. A similar realistically modelled study exists in the India Early Minshall Collection, Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. A previously unpublished drawing from an album of designs executed by Henrik Wigström relates closely to this flower study.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Probably acquired by Queen Alexandra; in the Royal Collection by 1953
 

(7) Wild rose c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, nephrite, enamel, diamonds | 14.6 x 5.9 x 4.0 cm | RCIN 40223

Description

A single wild rose of pink and white opaque enamel with red gold stamens and brilliant diamond centre, one set of three nephrite leaves on a green gold stalk, set into a rock crystal jar. 

Provenance

Probably acquired by Queen Alexandra; in the Royal Collection by 1953

(8) Bleeding heart  c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, nephrite, rhodonite, quartzite | 19.0 x 15.3 x 6.2 cm | RCIN 40502

Description

A double spray of bleeding hearts, carved in rhodonite and quartzite, with three sets of three carved nephrite leaves on dull green gold stalks in a rock crystal vase

Queen Mary acquired this study of bleeding heart in 1934. The nephrite leaves are carved to show the characteristic shape and veins of the plant and the bell-shaped flowers are made of carved and polished rhodonite with quartzite stamens. To ensure that the flower is as true to nature as possible, the flowers are suspended from gold stems, articulated en tremblant so that they can move gently, as if blown by the wind.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Mary, 1934

(9) Lily of the valley  c. 1900
Rock crystal, gold, nephrite, pearls, rose diamonds | 14.5 x 7.8 x 5.5 cm | RCIN 40217

Description

The delicate lily of the valley was the favourite flower of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. The imperial family, like other members of the wealthy in Russian society, were able to afford flowers imported from the south of France, which were kept on ice to preserve their freshness during the long train journey to Russia. Fabergé was able to replicate the charm and beauty of flowers through the ingenious use of precious metal and stones. The stems of this flower are of gold, the leaves of Siberian nephrite and the bell-shaped flowers of pearl edged with tiny rose diamonds, all resting in a vase of rock crystal carved to replicate the refraction of a flower stem in water. This flower was purchased by Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in December 1899 for 250 roubles and is presumed to have been a gift to Queen Alexandra.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Queen Alexandra, by whom bequeathed to Princess Victoria; King George V

The exhibition Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden runs from Friday, 20 March 2015 to Sunday, 11 October 2015 at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace in London, England. 
 
© Royal Collection Trust and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 March, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:36 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2015 6:41 AM EDT
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Faberge from the Royal Collection Trust on Display at Holyroodhouse Exhibit
Topic: Faberge


A dazzling selection of gold from the Royal Collection has gone on display in Scotland for the first time in a new exhibition at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.  It includes exquisite items of jewellery and personal accessories that give an insight into the tastes of generations of Queens and Consorts.

Gold explores and celebrates the qualities of the rare and precious metal through over 60 items from across the breadth of the Royal Collection, incorporating sacred and ceremonial items, including those of Fabergé.

Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (1860-1903)
 


Patch box 1894
Four-colour gold set with moss agate and rose cut diamonds | 4.6 x 4.1 x 2.5 cm | RCIN 9133
Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Description

By including moss agate in mounted jewellery and boxes, Fabergé was continuing a long tradition. Originally mined in India, these agates were known as mocha stones after the town on the Red Sea from which they were imported to Europe. The term 'moss' agate came about because deposits of ferrous and manganese oxides infiltrated the stone, thereby forming tree- and moss-like patterns. In the eighteenth century moss agate was discovered in Germany and it became much sought after in Europe, both for collectors of natural history specimens and for incorporating into snuff boxes and jewellery. Fabergé's source of the material was Siberia. His craftsmen also produced enamel with patterns simulating moss agate. Mark of Michael Perchin; gold mark of 56 zolotniks (before 1896); Fabergé in Cyrillic characters.Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection and the catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014. 

Provenance

Presented to Queen Mary when Duchess of York by Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Christmas 1894

Fabergé
 


Cigarette case 1903
Three-colour gold, rose diamonds, cabochon ruby | 1.4 x 9.4 x 6.8 cm | RCIN 4344
Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Description

This sumptuous cigarette case was given to King Edward VII as a fortieth wedding anniversary present by his sister-in-law, the Dowager Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, on 10 March 1903. Its elegant rounded rectangular shape is composed of red, yellow and white gold, a typical technique of Fabergé’s work, in a sunburst design centring on the combined cipher of Edward and Alexandra and on the reverse the date, 10 March 1903 XL 1863–1903, all set in diamonds. 

Marked with a Moscow gold mark of 56 zolotniks (1896-1908); K. Fabergé in Cyrillic characters; the mark of Ivan Britzin, assay master.

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection and a catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014. 

Provenance

Given to Edward VII by the Dowager Tsarina Marie Feodorovna as a fortieth wedding anniversary gift, 1903

Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (1860-1903)
 


Frame with miniature of Tsarina Marie Feodorovna  c.1895
Four colour gold, violet guilloché sunburst enamel containing watercolour miniature | 9.0 x 7.8 x 7.3 cm | RCIN 40107
Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Description

This portrait miniature of the Dowager Tsarina Marie Feodorovna was painted by Johannes Zehngraf and is based on a photograph by Alexander Alexandrovich Pasetti of 1894. Marie Feodorovna (1847-1928), born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, married the future Tsar Alexander III in 1866. In contrast to the Tsar, she enjoyed the excitement and extravagance of court life in St Petersburg. She had great admiration for Fabergé and his artistry and in 1882 she personally endorsed his work by purchasing a pair of gold cuff links in neo-Greek style from the Pan-Russian exhibition in Moscow. Following her husband’s death in 1894, her son Nicholas II continued the tradition of presenting her with a Fabergé Easter egg. In a letter dated 8 April 1914 to her sister Queen Alexandra, she describes how on receipt of the egg for that year she told Fabergé ‘vous êtes un génie incomparable’. Even during the first decade of the twentieth century, in a period of particularly difficult political relations between England and Russia, Marie Feodorovna visited England several times, notably in 1902 for the coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Following the Revolution in 1917, the Dowager Tsarina escaped to the Crimea and was eventually rescued with her daughter, Grand Duchess Xenia, by a British cruiser sent at King George V’s insistence. After a brief stay with her sister and nephew at Sandringham, she returned to Denmark, moving finally to Hvidøre, the villa outside Copenhagen she shared with Queen Alexandra. Even at Hvidøre, where she was to spend the remainder of her life, she was not without objects by Fabergé, having earlier had seals made for use there; of these there is an example in the Royal Collection. Mark of Michael Perchin; gold mark of 56 zolotniks (before 1896); Fabergé in Cyrillic characters. Miniature signed Zehngraf.Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection and the catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014. 

Provenance

Acquired by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), c.1895
 
The exhibition Gold runs from Friday, 27 March 2015 to Sunday, 26 July 2015 at the Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse. 
 
© Royal Collection Trust and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 March, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:57 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2015 6:40 AM EDT
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Friday, 13 February 2015
Faberge Museum, Baden-Baden
Topic: Faberge


Entrance to the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the February 13th, 2015 edition of The Telegraph. The author, John O'Ceallaigh, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

Some of Fabergé's most spectacular treasures await in an unassuming museum in Germany's Baden-Baden

Opened last year, St Petersburg’s Fabergé Museum may display the most comprehensive collection of treasures created by the Russian jeweller, but the increased difficulties Britons face in obtaining a Russian visa mean its wonders remain inaccessible to many. It’s worth knowing then that another Fabergé Museum, the only other of its kind in fact, has for some time been open for some time in southern Germany’s Baden-Baden.

Fabergé may be best remembered for the exquisite Imperial Eggs he crafted at the bequest of Russia’s last tsars, who from approximately 1885 to 1916 commissioned 50 of the bejewelled confections as presents for their wives and mothers, but his studio was expert in far more than that. While Baden-Baden is a small, sedate town most likely to draw tourists for its collection of spas, including the newly opened high-profile Villa Stephanie, this moderately sized museum houses a world-class collection. It displays more than 800 objects, and while its three priceless Eggs are unquestionably the headline draw, it’s the more unexpected items that fully illustrate his unparalleled skill as a master craftsman.

The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Fabergé cigarette cases, and as mundane as those objects might sound, they are, like the Eggs, intricately designed and riotously yet tastefully detailed creations, perhaps finished in gold or sheathed in diamonds. The market for smoking-related paraphernalia may have dwindled since Fabergé’s heyday, but many are precisely the right size to function as credit or business card holders – they’re immediately covetable.
 


Russian billionaire and art collector, Alexander Ivanov, founder of the Baden-Baden museum
 
Other displays are similarly dazzling. Racks of jewellery sparkle throughout; petite desk clocks remain remarkably modern in appearance so many decades after development; almost the entirety of the top floor is dedicated to Fabergé’s miniature animal figures, with fairy tale-like toads, elephants, armadillos and more rendered from jade and silver and decorated with precious stones. A level below, an entire room is taken over by a 200-piece dinner set, intricately carved from gold and used for the wedding service of the Maharaja of Patiala in 1922.

It is an incredible assembly, complemented by an ongoing exhibition of gold jewellery and crafts that date from about 3,000BC onwards. Whether it was explaining the provenance of ancient Mayan amulets or pointing out a Chinese funerary glove, woven into a mesh from minute strands of gold, the building’s security guard Herr Fleischmann proved an unexpectedly authoritative font of knowledge on all that area contained. He also mentioned he travels the world to give master classes in martial arts and is one of the most accomplished practitioners of Sin Moo Hapkido fighting there is – no doubt a good skill to have when you work in a small town protecting one of the most precious displays of jewellery and finery there is.
 
© John O'Ceallaigh / The Telegraph. 13 February, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:20 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 13 February 2015 8:30 AM EST
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Monday, 9 February 2015
Alexander Ivanov on Faberge and the Russian Art Market
Topic: Faberge

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the February 9th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author, Aliya Sayakhova, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
 
 
Russian art collector Alexander Ivanov explains how the Russian Art Market may develop as the ruble and economy plunge.

The last big sales in London in November reflected the deepening crisis in Russia. Major auction houses failed to sell between 40 and 60pc of lots offered. Although a new record was set when Valentin Serov’s Portrait of Maria Zetlin sold for £9.2 million, well above its £1.5-2.5 million estimate, even that could not hide the lacklustre atmosphere.

Economic cycles seem to leave some Russian collectors untroubled, among them wealthy former computer businessman Alexander Ivanov, a regular presence at London’s biannual Russian Art Week. Ivanov spends a couple of million pounds per visit and buys just about anything: Old Masters, European jewellery, Pre-Columbian gold, Russian icons. However his true love is Fabergé. Ivanov is a founder of the Fabergé museum in Baden-Baden, the German spa town. Opened in 2009, it is home to Ivanov’s ever-growing collection of rabbits, decanters, gold flowers, clocks, and other notable pieces by the Russian Imperial goldsmith.

Ivanov’s most important purchase to date was in 2007 when he paid £9m at Christie’s for a 1902 Fabergé egg made as an engagement gift for Baron Edouard de Rothschild, a scion of the French banking dynasty. The gold-and-pink enamel egg and clock with a diamond-set cockerel that pops up on the hour was completely unknown until it resurfaced at auction a few years ago. A highlight of Ivanov’s collection until recently, the fabulous ornament is now on show in the Throne Room of the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, having been formally presented December 8 by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark the Hermitage’s 250th birthday.

Ivanov bought the egg at Christie’s in 2007, though no public announcement of his donation has been made. As the collector told Moskovsky Komsomolets, it was always obvious that such a masterpiece as Rothschild’s egg must end up in Russia. He won't acknowledge his own role, remarking: “I don’t need PR."

Ivanov talked with RBTH during a recent shopping spree in London.

Russia Beyond the Headlines: When it comes to Fabergé, you buy across all categories, regardless of price and medium. Do you intend to create a comprehensive collection?

Alexander Ivanov: As you know, I buy for my museum. Apart from that, I buy a lot at European decorative arts sales. One can always find outstanding objects, from Germany in particular.  That type of art I collect for my own pleasure. Recently I bought a diadem because it belonged to the Russian empress – something that no one realised. We paid only £60,000 for it, which is very cheap. You can just look at the photographs of the empress where she is wearing this exact diadem. 

RBTH: Last year there was a sensation when Wartski announced the discovery of a third Fabergé egg, believed to have been given by Alexander III to Marie Feodorovna for Easter 1887. Have you seen this egg?

A.I.: I don’t acknowledge this egg as genuine. There are scholarly catalogues where all the imperial eggs are described in detail, including the one in question. In my museum we have drawings of Imperial egg designs, which we have not yet put on display or published, and which obviously shed light on the Wartski egg story. 

RBTH: What significant pieces have your recently acquired for your museum?

A.I.: We bought over 500 objects recently, including some outstanding pieces of Inca gold from America, plus Scythian, Sarmatian and, most significantly, Etruscan gold dated 12-10 BC. We also have collection of 500 Fabergé animals. 

RBTH: How much a year do you spend?

A.I.: Around £20-30 million. 

RBTH: Do you buy from across the world then, rather then just in London?

A.I.: Absolutely. The best pieces are always found at regional auctions in continental Europe and in France.

RBTH: Do you go to museums and galleries when visiting London?

A.I.: I always go to the National Gallery and its gallery where Carlo Crivelli is displayed as well the one that has Da Vinci. It’s a pity Crivelli doesn’t appear on the market very often. As for Da Vinci, they do occasionally - I just arranged to acquire a couple. But proving that it is an actual Da Vinci is incredibly difficult. 

RBTH: How do you think Russian Art Market is going to evolve? Is Putin really "watching closely who is throwing money around in London," as one British journalist told me?

A.I.: Putin has too many other problems to deal with. It’s a well-known fact that Russian bureaucrats spend colossal amounts of money at London auctions. But these people have no taste or education; they buy “primitive” art like Breughel, or some Russian art, lubok for example (Russian popular prints) which they bid sky high.  Even the Serov is hardly a masterpiece. Everyone understands that, apart from a Russian bureaucrat who knows and understands nothing. The reason why there are fewer of these buyers now is because the FSB [Federal Security Service, a successor body to the Soviet-era KGB] is investigating a couple of smuggling cases involving antique dealers and high-level Russian officials. It is a new trend, and I am sure there will be more checks, hence all the dealers are getting a bit nervous.
 
© Aliya Sayakhova / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 09 February, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:52 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 February 2015 7:12 AM EST
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