Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913
Photo © Sotheby's London
Sotheby’s has brought to Moscow for pre-auction display on 19th May, the top lots from the upcoming Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons auction to be held in London on June 7. Currently on display in Moscow in the decorative and applied arts section is a rare and magnificent Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913. The last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II gave it as a gift to Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov (estimate 180,000 — 250,000 GBP = 253,044 - 351,450 USD).
A rare and magnificent Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913
rectangular, the lid chased and repoussé with an Imperial eagle, its crown and shield set with circular- and pear-cut rubies within rose-cut diamonds, above a cartouche painted en plein with a view of the Moscow Kremlin, within stylised flowers and scrolling leaves, the lower register with dates 1613-1913, the ground of matte finish green enamel, cabochon ruby thumbpiece, polished gold sides and base, struck KF and K.Fabergé in Cyrillic beneath the Imperial Warrant, 56 standard, scratched inventory number 4389
length 9.5cm, 3 3/4 in.
As noted in the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet and the Fabergé invoice, this object entered the Cabinet's stock as item number 467 on 25 March 1913, the cost recorded as 650 roubles. It was released on 14 May 1913 "on the occasion of Their Imperial Majesties' travels around Russia" and thereafter presented to Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov, probably in Moscow on 24-27 May 1913. The recipient returned the object to the Cabinet for its cash value on 11 November 1913, the payment authorised on 15 November 1913.
CATALOGUE NOTE (Courtesy of Sotheby's London)
The Imperial Cabinet’s meticulous planning for the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule in 1913 began three years prior and included placing orders for commemorative objects with court suppliers Tillander, Hahn, Bolin and of course Fabergé. Intended to be given to courtiers and other officials, foreign dignitaries, members of the clergy, and ordinary citizens, these objects consisted mostly of small pieces of jewellery. The Tercentenary objects produced by Fabergé included most famously the Imperial Egg inset with portrait miniatures of all eighteen Romanov sovereigns, which Emperor Nicholas II gave to his wife for Easter that year, now at the Kremlin Armoury.
The culmination of the 1913 Tercentenary celebrations occurred in Moscow in May, following visits by the Imperial Family to Nizhny Novgorod and Kostrama. The formal procession into Moscow was led by the Emperor riding alone, sixty feet ahead of his Cossack escort. He dismounted in Red Square and walked through the gates of the Kremlin. The Empress and Tsarevich rode in an open car; the eight-year-old boy was ill and had to be carried by a Cossack into the Kremlin. The present lot was presumably given to General Anichkov during this visit to Moscow, given that it was released from stock the day before the Imperial journey began, and of course given its decoration. (Anichkov is also recorded as having also received a silver inkwell by Grachev; please see U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, p. 235.) His decision to return the object to the Cabinet for its cash value is in keeping with his sensible and economical approach to his professional life detailed below. There was no sense of affront attached to the selling-back of Imperial gifts, the system having been set up as a tasteful way for the Emperor to remunerate people for their service to the State.
Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov (1848-after 1917) was born into an old Russian family, formerly called Onichkovy, with strong ties to the Court, the military, and the city of St Petersburg. After serving in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878, he ran the palace and park at Tsarskoye Selo from 1882 to 1883. A contemporary remembered him from this time as “small, puny, smart, has undeniable comic talent and a large Russian shrewdness” and praised his manner of working: “In a short time Anichkov became acquainted with the running of the Tsarskoye Selo palace, he visited everywhere, climbing on roofs and basements, and made friends with all the staff. Once settled into his position of Little Captain he began to rule the roost, he delved into every little thing.… He did not hesitate to openly ask the advice of the experienced, intelligent subordinates, be it even a park guard or an upholsterer. The lively, energetic activity of the cheerful manager fell on the souls of his staff, and talk of him spread.” He was appointed Assistant Chief of Palace Administration in 1883, and the following year promoted to Head of the Imperial Residence at Gatchina, Emperor Alexander III’s primary residence. Another contemporary recalled: “Alexander III, who was fond of Gatchina and his palace, could not miss how everything came to life, smartened, and yet was done economically, domestically. The Emperor invited Anichkov to see him and thanked him.” His loyal and valued service continued into the next reign, as Head of the Gofmarshalskoy department for Nicholas II. As a Lieutenant-General, a rank he attained in 1906, Anichkov was Level III on the Table of Ranks and therefore received one of the most expensive Tercentenary cigarette cases; individuals of Levels I and II were given objects with the sovereign’s portrait which were not strictly speaking Tercentenary in design.
Writing years later of the Tercentenary, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna stated, “Nobody seeing those enthusiastic crowds, could have imagined that in less than four years, Nicky’s very name would be splattered with mud and hatred.” General Anichkov was there to witness the downfall, one of a handful of loyal generals struggling to protect the Imperial Family during the final days of the dynasty. During the February Revolution of 1917, with chaos raging in the streets of Petrograd, amid cries of “Down with the Tsar!”, Count Paul Benckendorff recalled, “During the night of the 27th-28th February, General Khabalov… telephoned to me that he was holding the Winter Palace with such troops as had remained faithful, that these troops were dying of hunger, and he implored me to help them in providing him with Court provisions which he thought were at the Palace…. I rang up General Komarov on the telephone in order to tell him to give General Khabalov and General Anichkov all the provisions that they could collect.” In fact, there was almost nothing left to give. Three days later, on 2 March, Emperor Nicholas II abdicated, ending 304 years of Romanov rule.
© Sotheby's London / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 May, 2016