Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 17th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Elena Bobrova, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
Two hundred and eighteen lots containing pieces made by the official supplier of jewelry to the Russian imperial court will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in October. A series of autographed prize medals is expected to generate particular interest among bidders.
Items of jewelry, silverware and a collection of prize medals from the workshops of the House of Fabergé, the illustrious supplier of jewelry to the Russian imperial court, will appear in a Sotheby's auction in New York on Oct. 23.
“This sale includes 71 lots of items from Fabergé; the lots of miniature pendant Easter eggs (lots 68 and 69) include works from many different jewelers of the period. Fabergé is one of the most desirable names on the world market and we are always trying to find the very best examples to offer our clients,” said Karen Kettering, Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art Department.
A serious bidding war is also anticipated for some of the enamelwork.
"Undoubtedly, we are all thrilled to offer the enamel, gold, silver and hardstone study of a violet (lot 36),” said Kettering. “The freshness and delicacy of the piece represents the very best of the Fabergé flower studies: the workmasters and artisans worked the most precious materials with the greatest of skill to create an object of refined simplicity”.
A gilded silver tray ladle with the enameled coat of arms of the Russian Empire is also expected to attract a high level of interest. ”The large and impressive Fabergé silver jardinière in Rococo taste (lot 101) is extraordinarily heavy and, at 48 cm in width, quite an imposing object. We had a similar centerpiece with the same coat-of-arms in a 2010 sale. We have not yet identified the family’s name, but it was obviously part of an important silver service for a very wealthy family,” said Kettering.
Collectors and investors are also only showing interest in precious autographed prize medals. In the days of the Russian Empire, these were given to specially merited directors of commercial railways, large auction houses and industrial associations. Their starting prices range from $5,000 to $25,000.
The auction's overall revenue, even if all the items are sold at starting prices, is expected to be over $1 million.
Kettering said that the current geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S. have not affected the demand for Russian art. “Sotheby’s auctions of Russian art in June 2014 achieved their highest total in six years, dispelling pre-sale doubts that had been raised about the market. Specifically, demand for Russian masterpieces has never been higher, with more lots selling for over £1 million at our Evening Auction than at any Russian sale before. These record sales demonstrate that there isn’t always a clear correlation between socio-political tension and the strength of the art market,” Kettering said.
Other American auction houses are also not backing off Russian art treasures. In December, New York will host the traditional international art and antique auctions with the participation of the largest auction houses and dealers from the U.S., the UK, Germany and France. Additionally, a collection of unique mechanic timepieces will be auctioned in December at the Antiquorum, a house that auctions pocket watches, hand watches and mantelpiece clocks made by the best watchmakers and jewelers from the mid-17th to 20th centuries. The collection to be auctioned is expected to contain a series of gift watches belonging to Russian Emperor Nicholas II. They were produced in a limited edition by the Pavel Bure Company, the official supplier of the imperial court.
The House of Fabergé (Dom Faberzhe in Russian) was founded by Gustav Faberge in St. Petersburg in 1842 and continued by his son Peter Carl Fabergé. The company became renowned for the high quality of its intricate pieces, in particular the ornate jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs it created for the Russian tsars. The firm was nationalized by the Bolsheviks when they came to power in 1918.
The Shuvalov Palace: Home to the Faberge Museum Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 5 minutes, 20 seconds Topic: Faberge
The video explores the history of the Shuvalov Palace and the recent restoration of the interiors,
plus various rooms as they look today, filled with the treasures created by Faberge
The Shuvalov Palace, enjoys a superb location on the corner of Italyanskaya Ulitsa, overlooking the Fontanka Canal. It was renowned for the balls held there in the first half of the 19th century which were frequented by all the Petersburg nobility, including members of the Russian Imperial family.
The exact date of the palace’s construction is unknown. It is presumed to have been built at the end of 18th century by the great neoclassical architect Giacomo Quarenghi. Prior to 1799, the palace was owned by the Vorontsov family before it was acquired by Countess Maria Naryshkina, lady-in-waiting to Catherine the Great. It was under the ownership of the Naryshkin family that the palace became known as one of the centres of society in St. Petersburg, with the Grand Ballroom (also known as the Alexandrovsky or White Column Hall) hosting balls for over a thousand people, music provided by the Naryshkins' horn orchestra, where each instrument played only a single note. Other attractions of the palace included the Picture Gallery, which housed one of Petersburg's richest collections of Western European art at the time. Among the guests at the palace were the poet Vasily Zhukovsky, and the fabulist Ivan Krylov, as well as Emperor Alexander I and his brother, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich.
Reconstruction of the building was undertaken by architects Bernard de Simone and Nikolay Efimov between 1844-1846 in preparation for the wedding of Sofia Naryshkina to Count Pyotr Shuvalov, after which the building became known as the Shuvalov Palace. From this period date the palace's Renaissance Revival facades and many of the surviving interiors, including the grand entrance hall and marble staircase, the Knights' Hall, the Red, Gold, and Blue Drawing Rooms, and the redecoration of the Grand Ballroom with marble columns and sculptural panels depicting scenes from the Trojan War.
After the Revolution, the Shuvalov Palace was opened as a museum. The Naryshkin/Shuvalov family treasures were then dispersed to other museums, and the palace became home to various literary organizations that were eventually unified under the Union of Writers of the USSR in 1934. The palace was severely damaged by bombing during the Siege of Leningrad, and after extensive restoration became the House of Peace and Friendship in 1965. Up until recently, the palace housed the St. Petersburg Center for International Cooperation - home to various conferences, seminars, and exhibitions dedicated to strengthening business and cultural ties between Russia and other countries.
Today, the palace is home to the Faberge Museum, showcasing Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s magnificent collection of more than 4,000 works of decorative art, including a collection of Faberge Easter Eggs, purchased in 2004 from the heirs of the American tycoon Malcolm Forbes. The restoration of the historical interiors began in 2006, at a cost of 1.2 billion Rubles, and employing several hundred restorers. The Faberge Museum opened to the public in November 2013.
Descendent of Explorer on Hunt for Faberge 'Nest-egg' Left to Him Topic: Faberge
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 26th, 2014 edition of the Lancashire Evening Post, who own the copyright of the work presented below.
The descendant of a Preston man suspected to have been a spy today revealed his family could have been left an egg-stremely large fortune – in the shape of a rare Faberge egg.
Dr Maxwell Naesmyth Wilcock, a 6ft 10in giant with size 19 feet, lived in Fishwick Parade and Deepdale Road in Preston in the 1930s and 1940s before embarking on a life of mystery, travelling to far flung places and never telling anyone what he did.
His cousin Robin Maudsley, 61, of Meadow Street, Deepdale, Preston, was stunned when a team of heir hunters contacted him in December 2011 to tell him Max had died in hospital with £13,000 cash stuffed in his pyjamas.
Since then his family have uncovered more and more incredible facts – with the valuable ‘nest egg’, potentially worth millions, the latest twist in the tale.
Two people – Max’s fiancee, Lily Dong, in San Francisco and an elderly woman from Preston who was friends with him – confirmed they had seen him with an ornamnental egg.
Robin says: “I last spoke to Uncle Max in 2009 and he said he wanted to come back to Preston to right a wrong, and to give us something from a safety deposit box in Preston.
“We now think that may have been the egg. I think he had been carrying the egg around with him but on realising its value, put it in a safe in Preston, probably in a bank.
“However it is difficult for us to find out more because he was known by 13 different aliases. He really is an enigma.”
Lily told them about the egg but at first Robin believed it was “just another story”, having heard increasingly bizarre tales about his late relative.
But following Evening Post coverage last year, a woman who knew Max came forward and told Robin about the same egg.
There are only thought to be around 50 Fabergé eggs in the world, with the most famed eggs being the Imperial collections.
Robin said: “If any readers who remember Max can verify anything else about the egg, we would be very grateful.”
More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. “Fabergé: Jeweller to the Tsars” will be on view from June 20 through September 27, 2015. The exhibition, drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, will showcase Carl Fabergé’s fine craftsmanship in pieces of jewellery and adornments once belonging to the Russian Imperial family.
From dazzling Imperial Easter eggs to delicate flower ornaments and from enchanting animal sculptures to cigarette cases, photograph frames and desk clocks, Fabergé often turned the most mundane objects into miniature works of art. The vast majority of his designs were never repeated, and most pieces were made entirely by hand. The success of his business was inextricably linked to the patronage of the Romanov dynasty and the close ties among the British, Danish and Russian royal families, who often exchanged works by Fabergé as personal gifts.
The “Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg” of 1912, which will be on view at OKCMOA, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son, Alexsei, who nearly died the previous year of haemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.
These objects were associated with refinement and luxury because the House of Fabergé was known for accepting nothing less than perfection as well as for being business savvy. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewellers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated.
Fabulous Faberge Takes a Peek Inside Imperial Russia Topic: Faberge
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 19th, 2014 edition of the National Post. The author David Berry, owns the copyright of the version presented below.
As objets d’art go, there is not now nor is there likely to ever be anything more famous than the intricate Easter eggs designed by Peter Carl Fabergé. They were commissioned by the Russian czars from 1885 until the Bolshevik revolution made both imperialism and gilded, jewelled imperial presents fall sharply out of favour. Crafted by hand, extravagantly decorated, and each containing a special surprise inside, the Fabergé eggs evoke an opulent style and time with their name alone.
“The work is still a living symbol,” explains Nathalie Bondil, director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which has just opened a deep and detailed exhibit of the craftsman’s work, Fabulous Fabergé: Jeweller to the Czars. “But the name, it remains something completely historical — its history is done. It’s a bit like Napoleon: I can feel the same fascination, the same fetishism, because they symbolize a moment of great history. The power of suggestion is so, so strong.”
That was true even before they had a century worth of legend-building. Many of Fabergé’s greatest creations, including several of the 50 eggs he is said to have made for the imperial family (he made a handful of others for private clients), were either scrapped or sold by the Soviets as part of their “treasure into tractors” program, which aimed to both raise money and wipe out the traces of Russia’s royal past.
Nearly 100 years later, they are now some of the most sought-after pieces of Russian history in the world, particularly by the modern heirs to the Czars, the oligarchs who have made billions in the rush back to capitalism. Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the Renova Group and Russia’s third-richest man, has bought 11 of the Imperial eggs for the $100-million total, and the recently rediscovered third egg just sold for about $35-million to a private collector, believed to be a Russian.
This hunger for the hallmarks of Imperial Russia’s pre-eminent designer makes the MMFA exhibit, on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the most impressive collection of Fabergé works outside their homeland. Though it features a host of pieces, particularly miniature objects, the exhibit is organized around the four Imperial eggs Virginia has in its collection: The blue-and-gold Cesarevich, which reveals a diamond-encrusted portrait of Nicolas II’s heir Alexei; the relatively simple red gold Pelican, with a jewel-encrusted figurine of the bird perched on top; the intricate Peter the Great, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg; and the Red Cross, presented during the First World War and featuring members of the Imperial family dressed as Sisters of Mercy.
Each egg is used to explain some part of the world from which it sprang, including the tradition of eggs in the Orthodox church, the history of Imperial Russia and the role of Fabergé in imperial society. They’ve also been set against works by modern designers, which, as Bondil explains, is a way of taking the pieces of the pedestal and getting them into a conversation with the modern audience.
“We wanted to show it a new way, a way that wasn’t cute or kitsch or old-fashioned … I think sometimes because Fabergé is so well known, it can get a little overlooked, [treated] a little hands-off. But they should be conversational … each object represents so much more than itself,” she explains, before adding that there was a practical motive behind displaying other works with the Fabergé, too. “A lot of these works are miniatures, which are very, very small; they’re exquisite, but they’re not so easy to display.”
Fabulous Fabergé: Jeweller to the Czars is on until Oct. 5 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 6th, 2014 edition of The Daily Mail. The author Catherine Hardy owns the copyright presented below.
You may only know of the Romanovs through watching ‘Anastasia’ but the Russian royal family owned some seriously stylish ornaments.
To the Tsars of old, Easter eggs weren’t made of chocolate but were beautifully crafted Fabergé pieces with gold and precious stones.
An exhibition of 240 Fabergé objects will be on display exclusively in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada, the largest collection outside of Russia from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.
The exhibition ‘Fabergé, Jeweller to the Tsars’, running from June 14 to October 5, will include four of the last 43 Fabergé eggs that were commissioned by the Romanovs.
Carl Fabergé, who lived from 1846 to 1920, was a Russian jeweller whose name has become synonymous with these beautiful and ornate objects, as well as luxury jewellery.
As well as showcasing his stunning works, the exhibition will explain the history and traditions of Orthodox Russia and the techniques of the House of Fabergé, which fell with the Tsarist regime.
The jewelled and glittering exhibits include enamelled picture frames, gold jewellery encrusted with precious stones, miniature animals carved from precious stones, rock-crystal flower vases and silverware.
The star pieces of the exhibition will be a small hard-stone portrait of a sailor from the imperial yacht Zarnitsa, a rare portrait of Tsar Nicholas II in a column shaped frame, and a portrait of the Grand Duchess Tatiana, second daughter of the last Tsar, thought to be the last artefact of the imperial family before their tragic murder.
Dr. Géza von Habsburg, conservation director of the Fabergé Company based in London, said 'With its five imperial eggs, the Fabergé collection of the Virginia Museum of Art is the largest of its kind outside of Russia.
'Its eggs, four of which are travelling to Montreal, are some of the greatest masterpieces ever created by Fabergé, who was, according to connoisseurs, the world’s most famous goldsmith'.
Fabergé is best known for his mastery of enamelled decoration, and the exhibition will reveal the full extent of his productions, from cloisonné enamelled Russian goblets to Western decorated cigarette boxes, walking canes and photo frames.
But his most famous legacy is his intricate eggs, mainly created for the Tsar of Russia, each containing a very special surprise inside.
One of the four eggs on display is the Tsarevitch imperial Easter egg, made in 1912 by master goldsmith Henrik Wigström.
A present for the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, it consists of six sections of lapis lazuli decorated with golden two- headed eagles and splays of flowers, with a diamond monogram of the Russian letters AF. Inside is a miniature portrait of Tsarevitch Alexi, the son of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra.
Tsarina Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, making her an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II.
Nathalie Bondil, the MMFA’s Director and Chief Curator, says “This first major exhibition on Fabergé to be shown in Canada is a unique opportunity to discover the splendour of the decorative arts of the House of Fabergé, whose fate was tragically linked to the history and fall of the imperial house of Russia in 1917.
The jeweller’s symbolic significance and artistry still exert their fascination, from the dollar princesses of yesteryear to the oligarch tsars of today who collect them.’
The coming week in London is set to be all about Russian art as the city's premier auction houses and arts venues kick off the fourth annual Russian Art Week. Auctions of rare and valuable Russian paintings, icons and works of decorative art will be held at all the major auction houses from May 20 to June 7, alongside a series of exceptional exhibitions of work by contemporary Russian artists at galleries and museums around the city.
Among the most valuable pieces in the June 4 sale at Bonhams are 11 Faberge works, showcasing the materials and techniques that endowed the legendary Faberge firm with its lasting appeal.
Among the lots that will see collectors from around the world descend on New Bond Street are a 1913 Faberge figure of a bourgeois woman crafted in semi-precious stones with sapphire eyes. The piece is offered with an estimate of £300,000 to £500,000. Faberge genre figures rendered in hardstone were as rare as Faberge eggs and only about 50 were ever produced. The piece now up for auction was once in the collection of Emanuel Nobel, a prominent Swedish industrialist based in St. Petersburg, who owned the largest collection of stone figures before 1914 and was one of Faberge's most important clients.
A jewelled gold and rock crystal lily of the valley Faberge study is also set to go up on the block. Estimated at £200,000 to £300,000, the delicate study possesses leaves made of nephrite unfurling from pearl buds that are covered in sparking rose-cut diamond dew drops. Faberge flower studies were particularly cherished by the imperial family, with lilies of the valley finding particular favour with Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna as well as their royal British cousins.
WARTSKI: The Story of the Shop Behind This Easter's Most Extraordinary Egg Topic: Faberge
Wartski specializes in Russian works of art; particularly those by Carl Faberge
Outside the little Wartski jewelers’ shop in Mayfair, there is a queue. For four days only, in the run up to Easter, this venerable antique dealers just off Bond Street is exhibiting a priceless Fabergé egg. In the first two and a half days, 1500 visitors saw the egg, which had been lost for nearly a hundred years before turning up at an American flea market.
The following article was originally published in the April 20th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Phoebe Taplin owns the copyright presented below.
Carl Faberge's Lost Third Imperial Easter Egg Goes On Display Topic: Faberge
Faberge's Third Imperial Egg on display at Wartski in London, England. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The Third Faberge Imperial Easter Egg is displayed at Court Jewellers Wartski on April 16, 2014 in London, England. This rare Imperial Faberge Easter Egg, made for the Russian Royal family in 1887, thought to be worth tens of millions of dollar, was seized by the Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution. It was sold at auction in New York in 1964 as a 'Gold watch in egg form case' for $2450 - its provenance then unknown. Later a buyer in the US Mid-West bought it for possible scrap metal value until he discovered it's true value.
For more information on the Third Imperial Egg, please refer to the following links: