Two knives from the Neo-Gothic Fabergé silver service found in Poland
A Polish scientist claims that he has found two knives produced by Peter Carl Faberge, which were considered to be lost. The knives from the Neo-Gothic Fabergé silver service were commissioned by Alexander and Barbara Kelch in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
Alexander Ferdinandovich Kelch was a Russian nobleman who lived in St Petersburg at the end of the nineteenth century. He is now known mainly as a patron of Fabergé, and according to archived documents, the family owned the second largest collection of Faberge in Russia. Kelch commissioned seven eggs for his wife Barbara. Two of these eggs - the Kelch Hen Egg (1898) and Chanticleer Egg (1904) - are on permanent display in the Fabergé Museum in St Petersburg.
The knives were a part of larger collection. They were made in the Neo-Gothic style very untypical of Fabergé and decorated with dragons and gryphons. The fate of these unique pieces of art was lost after the Great October Revolution of 1917. The researchers of Fabergé heritage agree that the set of knives’ is one of the most prominent masterpieces of the great master.
The silver service collection was created specially for the Kelch mansion in the Neo-Gothic style under construction at 28 Sergeievskaia, in St Petersburg. According to archival documents, the silver tableware ordered by the Kelch’s was designed to match the decor of the dining room with its style and decoration.
The Kelch service was made in a Moscow branch of the Fabergé firm. Alexander paid the astounding sum of 125,000 rubles for the Kelch service. For comparison, both of the Kelch eggs ordered in 1900 cost only 13,500 rubles.
Click here for more information on the Neo-Gothic Fabergé silver service + additional photographs and VIDEO,compiled by Dr. Adam Szymanski, Polish art historian specializing in Russian art and Fabergé
The Carl Fabergé and Alexey Denisov-Uralsky Exhibition opened on 14th June at the Stone Carving and Jewellery History Museum in Ekaterinburg. The exhibition which marks the 25th Anniversary of the Museum is dedicated to the art of Russian jewellers and stone-carvers of the 19th – early 20th century.
The exhibit is a significant event in the history of the museum, presenting the world's masterpieces of jewellery and lapidary art, a collection of Ural gems, paintings and drawings from the museum's own funds and six Russian museums - including the Moscow Kremlin Museums - as well as photographs from the archive of the Denisov-Uralsky family.
A cigarette case and cufflinks carved from rhodonite with a relief opaque monogram of Emperor Alexander III are perfect examples of the fruitful cooperation between the two famous companies, made by Ekaterinburg carvers in 1891. Eric August Kollin, goldsmith and principal Fabergé master till 1886, attached a mount and gold buckles to them.
The exhibition features 75 pieces by Fabergé
In 1896, the Ekaterinburg Imperial Lapidary Manufactory was commissioned to execute a small and restrained saltcellar from bright pink rhodonite, and a luxurious rhodonite dish for the rite of bread and salt for the coronation day of Nicholas II. Afterwards, the dish was sold at an antiquarian market, but fortunately, the saltcellar has been preserved in the Kremlin Museums’ collection. Another exquisite dish of Kalkan jasper, made jointly by craftsmen of the Ekaterinburg Imperial Lapidary Manufactory and the Fabergé firm in 1888, is also on display.
Of much interest is a magnificent golden smoky quartz – an exclusive item in the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, created by the renowned artist, stone-carver and jeweller Alexey Denisov-Uralsky. The artisan worked upon the rare mineral, having discovered its best qualities and highlighted its original form and size. According to legend, this quartz belonged to the Emperor Nicholas II who appreciated works of art made of stones, and gems.
The Moscow Kremlin Museums demonstrate unique seals of the Romanov House. There is a desk seal of Emperor Alexander II, made of umber onyx and decorated with precious stones by the famous Petersburg master Samuel Arndt, and a marvellous golden topaz seal in gold mounting, bearing an imperial crown on its handle by Wilhelm Reimer, which belonged to the governor-general of Moscow, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich.
The House of Fabergé and other Russian jewellery and stone carving manufactories produced both exceptional and unique items commissioned by the Russian Imperial family, and inimitable works from the objets de fantaisie series, as well as utilitarian objects made thoroughly like genuine pieces of art.
The Art Nouveau style is represented by a silver cigarette case adorned with relief oak branch bearing a carnelian cabochon, from the Kremlin Museums’ collection. It has a mark of Johan Victor Aarne – a Petersburg workmaster, Finnish by descent, who worked exclusively for the Fabergé firm from 1891 to 1904.
Visitors to the 25th anniversary exhibition will also have the rare opportunity to see jewellery pieces from the collections of the Kremlin Museums; moreover, some of them are exhibited for the first time. Two refined ladies’ brooches decorated with lilac chalcedony cabochon and studded with smallest rose-cut diamonds were acquired not long ago. They were executed by one of the leading jewellers of the Fabergé firm – Alfred Thielemann.
The oldest Russian firm – House of C.E. Bolin – founded in Petersburg as early as 1796, was the factory producing luxurious jewellery pieces which were particularly esteemed in Russia. The brooch with a large-scale golden citrine created by Sophia Schwen, who was a court jeweller to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, is an excellent example of it. Another example is a large-scale brooch in the shape of a bouquet inlayed all over by Ural demantoid – minerals of Russian art nouveau.
The display uniting masterpieces of different types and genres, made at the leading Russian manufactories throughout half a century, is a remarkable event in the Ural region famous for its wonderful traditions of stone carving and jewellery.
The Carl Fabergé and Alexey Denisov-Uralsky Exhibition runs from 14th June to 10th September 2017 at the Stone Carving and Jewellery History Museum, Ekaterinburg
Sotheby’s Russian works of art sale on 6 June was led by a Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel timepiece made by the workmaster Henrik Wigström in St Petersburg. Dating from 1904-1908, the timepiece was previously owned by the actor Yul Brynner - purchased from Wartski, London, 11 August 1966 - it was estimated at £180,000-250,000, but sold at £240,000 ($305,000 USD).
The Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel timepiece, workmaster Henrik Wigström, St Petersburg, 1904-1908: square, the face enamelled in translucent salmon pink over sunburst engine-turning and painted with radiating dendritic tendrils, the numbers each set with rose-cut diamonds on raised discs of translucent white enamel over concentric engine-turning intertwined with gold laurel, white line border, the frame of chased gold acanthus leaves, ivory back, silver scroll strut, struck with workmaster's initials and Fabergé in Cyrillic, 56 and 88 standards, scratched inventory numbers 15890 (crossed out) and 14845 or 14245, in a wood Wartski case, height 8.9cm, 3 1/2 in.
The actor Yul Brynner (1920-1985) was born in Vladivostok and retained an interest in his Russian heritage and in Russian objects throughout his life. He narrated Lost to the Revolution, a documentary of the Forbes Collection of Imperial Fabergé eggs, in 1981.
Faberge as Danish as he was Russian - as was his Favourite Client Topic: Faberge
The Royal Danish Egg, Danish Palaces and the Diamond Trellis Egg
This article by Ben Hamilton was originally published in The Copenhagen Post, on 5th March 2017
Given that Princess Dagmar owned 60 percent of them, is it far-fetched to speculate that some of the lost Imperial Easter Eggs might be in Denmark?
It’s curious how history tends to discount maternal family lines when assessing nationality, but it’s come in handy for various royal families over the years, most noticeably the Saxe-Coburg and Gothas, who changed their name to Windsor in 1917, to disguise the truth that they were more German than a frankfurter sausage.
Of course, in the case of George V, the king of Britain at that time, he was more Danish than anything else, through his mother, Queen Alexandra, although that might depend on how German the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was. Yes, this nationality assessment – it’s harder than it looks.
So perhaps the world can be forgiven for regarding the famous Fabergé jewellery design family as Russian, even if the bit about them being the descendants of fleeing French Huguenots is often thrown in – to explain the accent in the surname more than anything else.
But ignore the mother it does, and in the case of the creator of the famous eggs, Peter Carl Fabergé, when he asked for mor, it was Charlotte Jungstedt, the daughter of a Danish artist, who answered in the affirmative.
An imperial cinema
The Danish connection to the eggs does not end there, as Fabergé’s main client was Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, who’s better known in these parts as a Copenhagen cinema. To bring us full circle, if that’s possible in the convoluted machinations of 19th century European royal history, Princess Dagmar of Denmark was the younger sister of the aforementioned Alexandra of Britain and daughter of the father-in-law of Europe himself, Denmark’s Christian IX.
And it’s even said that the eggs were inspired by one owned by a Dane too: an ivory specimen that was the property of Dagmar’s aunt, Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark and Norway, the daughter of Frederick VI, which Dagmar admired (‘coveted’ might a big strong in this case) as a child.
Fast-forward to 1885, and Emperor Alexander III of Russia is wondering what he should get his Danish wife to mark 20 years of marriage. Now, nobody knows for sure whether it was a complete surprise to Dagmar (we like to think that she was sleep-taking: “I had an egg in Denmark” – imagine the voice of Meryl Streep if it helps), but Alexander presented her with a golden Easter egg, which when opened revealed a golden yolk containing a golden hen containing a diamond crown.
Known as The Hen Egg, this would be the first of 50 Imperial Easter eggs (of 52 made) presented to Dagmar and her daughter-in-law Alexandra, as when Alexander unexpectedly died at the age of 49 in late 1894, his heir Nicolas II continued the tradition, but doubled the order to present eggs to both his wife and his mother. In total Dagmar received 30 during her lifetime, and it would have been more if the Russian Revolution hadn’t scrambled all the gift-giving in 1917.
Did Dagmar take them?
Three of the eggs presented to Dagmar reflected her Danish heritage (see factbox): the 1890 egg, Danish Palaces, the 1892 egg, the Diamond Trellis Egg, and the 1903 egg, Royal Danish, and it is intriguing to note that the last of these was received by Dagmar in Copenhagen where she was attending the 40th anniversary of her father’s accession to the throne – hence the choice of motif. As Nicholas II wrote to his mother, he was sending “a Fabergé Easter present. I hope it will arrive safely; it simply opens from the top.”
It remains one of seven Imperial Eggs that are officially lost, and there is no record that the egg ever left Denmark. As a 2014 episode of the TV series ‘Raiders of the Lost Art’ remarked: “Something is amiss in the state of Denmark.” Even more curiously perhaps, of the seven lost eggs, all seven were gifts to Dagmar.
When Dagmar eventually left Russia aboard the HMS Marlborough in 1919, it is speculated that several of the missing eggs might have been in her luggage. Certainly the 1916 egg, The Order of St George, was in her possession (along with two Rembrandts) as she eventually left it to her daughter Xenia when she died in Denmark in 1928. But how many of the missing seven might she have had? After all, she was the rightful owner.
Well, three of them – Cherub with Chariot, Nécessaire, and Hen with Sapphire Pendant – have been accounted for in records following Dagmar’s departure from Russia.
And another, the Empire Nephrite Egg (1902), also known as the Alexander III Medallion Egg, was listed by Dagmar’s entourage as being among her personal belongings at the Gatchina Palace in St Petersburg in July 1917. She had left the capital, never to return, a year earlier.
But two of them, along with Royal Danish, have not. No post-1917 records exist of another egg with significant personal connection to Dagmar, the Alexander III Commemorative egg from 1909, as well as The Mauve (1897).
Next to Dunkin’ Donuts
For many years, there were eight missing imperial eggs, but then one showed up in 2012, the 1887 edition, the Third Imperial Egg. An American metal dealer had bought it a decade earlier for approximately 80,000 kroner for its scrap value, but was then told he had overpaid for it by prospective purchasers and it sat in his kitchen for years.
Eventually he googled it, discovered a Daily Telegraph article asking if this very egg was on your mantelpiece, and contacted a London jeweller, Kieran McCarthy from Wartski, who flew out to the States to verify the discovery and pay 200 million kroner on behalf of a collector.
“It was a very modest home in the Mid West, next to a highway and a Dunkin’ Donuts,” he told the DT. “There was the egg, next to some cupcakes on the kitchen counter.”
So the question remains: is there a Fabergé egg sitting around somewhere in Denmark overlooking a Jensen’s Bøfhus next to some stale cinnamon snails?
The Missing Imperial Eggs. The Facts
Diamond Trellis Egg
The 1892 egg, the Diamond Trellis Egg, contained an automaton (Fabergé’s first) of an ivory elephant covered with precious stones – a tribute to Denmark’s Order of the Elephant.
Likewise discovered at the Kremlin in 1917, it can today be seen at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Until two years ago it was believed the automation had been lost, but it was then confirmed it had been in the collection of the British Royal Family since George V purchased it. Nice of them to let us know!
The 1890 egg consists of ten watercolours of mostly Danish landmarks painted by the Russian artist Konstantin Krijitski. Among those depicted were: Bernstorff Palace, Kronborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, Fredensborg Palace and the Emperor Villa at Fredensborg Park. Two imperial yachts and three Russian palaces complete the ten.
Discovered at the Kremlin in 1917, it was sold abroad in 1930 and eventually found among the private collection of a deceased New York lady in 1971. Today the egg can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its adopted home.
At 229 mm tall, the 1903 egg (also known as the Danish Jubilee Egg) was one of the largest made for the Romanovs. True to its name, it contained miniature portraits of Dagmar’s parents, Christian IX and Louise of Hesse-Kassel.
A description published in 1934 in the Connoisseur magazine helpfully adds: “The outer surface is in light blue and white enamel with ornaments in gold and precious stones. On the top are the armorial bearings of the Danish Royal Family, and it is supported by Danish heraldic lions.”
Only one photograph of it exists today.
For more information on the missing Faberge Imperial Eggs, please refer to the following articles:
An ‘historically important’ link to Russia’s imperial past and the fabled House of Fabergé is to go under the hammer at Bulstrodes in Christchurch tomorrow.
Until last week it had been thought the ornately enamelled silver cutlery set was by Fabergé, but research carried out by auctioneer Kate Howe has revealed it was actually made by Ivan Saltikov for the Grachev brothers, Imperial silversmiths and rivals of Fabergé.
However, the auction lot, which is expected to fetch between £8,000 and £10,000, also includes two letters written by Carl Fabergé that relate to one of the famous Imperial Easter Eggs created between 1885 and 1917 for the Russian Tsars.
“This is very exciting and we have had significant interest from collectors of the Fabergé Easter Eggs,” said Kate.
“Historically this is a very important lot, not only because of the letters written by Fabergé, but because of their content. They fill in some of the cracks in the Fabergé story as they shed new light on the identity of one of the locations depicted inside the Imperial Rock Crystal Easter Egg.”
The Imperial Rock Crystal Easter Egg is part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's European Decorative Art collection
Just two months before their coronation in 1896, Nicholas II gave the egg to his wife to mark their second Easter as a married couple. Inside are twelve miniature watercolour paintings on ivory by Johannes Zehngraf depicting scenes of the various palaces and residences that were significant to the young Empress.
The letters reveal one of the buildings is Cathcart House in Harrogate where the then Princess Alix of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, stayed during a visit to North Yorkshire in 1894 to ‘take the cure’ in the famous baths as a treatment for her sciatica.
During her stay the owner of the house, a Mrs Allen, gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. The princess took this as a good omen for her forthcoming marriage to Tsesarevich Nicholas and asked to be godmother to the twins and that they be named Alix and Nicholas. She attended the baptism and maintained a close relationship with her godchildren.
Two identical boxed cutlery sets were sent to Alix and Nicholas as their first birthday gifts in 1895 and an original photograph of the sets is included in the sale as is a scrapbook of letters and news clippings.
The book also includes the two handwritten letters signed by Carl Fabergé, as well as telegrams from Queen Alexandra to Princess Victoria and many other documents providing a fascinating provenance.
For more information about the Fabergé cutlery sets also up for auction, please refer to the following article:
The tragic story of the last of the imperial Russian family does not have an immediately obvious connection with a Yorkshire spa town but it is nonetheless a strong one.
A lot coming up at Christchurch, Dorset, auction house Bulstrodes on March 2nd reveals this intriguing link: a champlevé enamelled boxed set of Fabergé cutlery estimated at £8000-10,000, along with an archive of associated items.
In November 1894 Princess Alix of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was to marry Tsesarevich Nicholas, heir to the Russian throne. Earlier that year she had travelled to the sleepy but socially significant town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire to take ‘the cure’ in the famous baths as a treatment for her sciatica, travelling under the name of Baroness Startenburg with a lady in waiting.
She stayed at Cathcart House, a boarding house owned by a Mrs Allen. It was established shortly after 1860 as one of the town’s leading boarding houses - in 1911 a tea-party here was attended by Empress Marie of Russia; Queen Alexandra, former Empress of India; King Manuel of Spain; Prince Christopher of Greece; Princess Victoria and the Grand Duchess George of Russia.
While the princess was staying at Cathcart House, Mrs Allen gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy.
The princess took this as a good omen for her forthcoming marriage to Nicholas and asked to be godmother to the twins and that they be named Alix and Nicholas. She attended the baptism in St Peter’s Church. The future Empress of Russia maintained a close relationship with her godchildren and regularly sent them gifts for years afterwards.
In 1910, on the occasion of his confirmation, Nicholas was given gold cufflinks inlaid with diamonds and sapphires, followed by a gold cross and chain for his 21st birthday in 1915.
In 1994 Nicholas’s son, Michael, gave many of the gifts from the Tsarina to the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate, including those cufflinks.
According to a Yorkshire Post newspaper report in 2006: “Nicholas Allen became an official with the Yorkshire Penny Bank and kept his gifts from the Tsarina in a security deposit box, but a week after he died, his son received a letter asking him to claim them. For a time Mr Allen kept them in his loft but eventually decided they were too much of a security risk. It is not known what has happened to the Tsarina’s gifts to her goddaughter.”
However, the cutlery which has emerged at Bulstrodes was sent to Alix Allen as her first birthday gift in 1895, says the auction house. Two identical boxed sets were sent for the boy and girl as indicated in the black and white photograph included in the lot (and pictured above). Also consigned is a scrapbook containing many letters and news clippings of the time documenting the Russian royal connection to the Allen family and Cathcart House.
The book includes two handwritten letters signed by Carl Fabergé, telegrams from Queen Alexandra to Princess Victoria - who also stayed at Cathcart House at the time - and many documents providing a fascinating provenance. The boxed set is consigned by “direct descendants of the recipient”, says Bulstrodes.
The Russian imperial link to Harrogate continued long after Alix visited. Marie Georgievna, Grand Duchess George of Russia, ended up marooned there in August 1914 when her daughters were being treated at the town’s spas. She founded five hospitals in the town to treat injured soldiers returning from active service.
A magnificent historical treasure of Imperial Russia is one of the exhibits at the 27th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie this week. The prestigious watchmaker Parmigiani presents the 1907 Yusupov Egg as part of their exhibit which runs in Geneva from 16th to 20th January.
In spite of its great age, the egg always has still retained it’s original splendour. Restored by the workshops of Parmigiani Fleurier ten years ago, the Fabergé egg of the Yusupov family is drawing large crowds to the stand of the Swiss luxury watchmakers at the fair.
1907 Yusupov Egg
In 1907, the charismatic Prince Felix Felixovich Sumarkov-Elston offered the Fabergé egg to his wife, Princess Zinaida Nikolayevna Yusupova, on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary, as evidenced by the number XXV inscribed on the base of the clock. The couple were married on April 4, 1882 in Saint Petersburg.
The egg is made of yellow and red gold, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, rubies, translucent raspberry pink and opaque white enamel, with a base made of white onyx.
The egg is presented as a Louis XVI style table clock, with a rotating opaque white enamel dial, set with diamond-set Roman numerals, standing on three pilasters and lion-paw feet. Suspended laurel swags contain three oval medallions that once held miniatures of the senior Prince Felix Yusupov and his sons, Felix (1887-1967) and Nicholas (1883-1908). The medallions now bear the gold letters M, Y and S, within rose-cut diamond borders, the initials of the last owner, Maurice Sandoz.
According to Annemiek Wintraecken, the miniatures of Prince Felix and his two sons Felix and Nikolai were removed in New York at the request of Maurice Sandoz, the new owner. The firm that did the work reportedly retains the original medallions to this day.
Great landowners and industrialists, connoisseurs and collectors of art, the Yusupovs, whose fortune was second in the empire behind the Romanovs, led a life of an unheard-of splendour. As the head of one of the most important noble family in Russia, Princess Zinaida also inherited a vast fortune, which meant owning the largest collection of historical jewels in Russia, second only to that of the vaults of the Russian Imperial Family.
Following the Russian Revolution, Zinaida lost her vast wealth. She and her husband moved to Rome living under reduced circumstances. After his death in 1928 she moved to Paris, where she died in 1939.
The Fate of the 1907 Yusupov Egg
The 1907 Yusupov Egg was possibly sold by Russian officials in Paris or Berlin, with a succession of owners: dealers in London (1949), Dr. Maurice Sandoz, Switzerland (1953), Edward and Maurice Sandoz Collection, Lausanne, Switzerland (1958).
The 1907 Yusupov Egg, which is now part of the Maurice-Yves Sandoz Collection, was deposited in the workshops of Parmigiani Fleurier for restoration in 2007. Thanks to the firms restoration experts, this rare Fabergé egg has now received a "second life".
Unknown Faberge: New Finds and Re-discoveries Topic: Faberge
On view October 8, 2016 – February 26, 2017, The Museum of Russian Art’s Unknown Fabergé: New Finds and Re-discoveries exhibition brings to Minneapolis a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view beautifully crafted Fabergé objects; many of which will be displayed for the first time in an American museum. Unknown Fabergé will present both aesthetically stunning and thought-provoking artwork by conveying the role of Fabergé objects in the life of Russian society at that time.
Unknown Fabergé will unveil previously unknown and recently discovered objects from The House of Fabergé - the leading jeweller to the Russian Imperial Court. On loan primarily from private collections and museums in Europe and the United States, the exhibition will include more than 80 Fabergé objects crafted of gold, silver, wood as well as precious stones including jade, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The array of Fabergé objects displayed include intricate jewellery, cigarette cases, timepieces, photograph frames, icons, and much more.
One piece in particular that promises to create much curiosity and excitement is the Imperial Bell Push which was purchased by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and is known to have been used by the emperor and empress at Peterhof. Only recently discovered in a private collection in New York, the Imperial Bell Push has never before been displayed in an exhibition. Anywhere.
Unknown Fabergé: New Finds and Re-discoveries exhibition runs from Saturday, October 8, 2016 - Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, MN.
Faberge Gifts from the House of Romanov Topic: Faberge
The unmatched objects crafted by Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé from the decades around 1900, which were commissioned by the families of the last two tsars, are masterpieces of European decorative art. They combine the finest taste with the highest technical perfection. It is not only the material value or the size of the gemstones that captivates the beholder of these works of art, but also the sophistication of the workmanship and the elegance in the aesthetics of style.
Aside this, it is the human destinies inter-linked with these designs that have an effect on us today. Artwork from Fabergé was presented as a gift within the House of Romanov on various occasions and sent all over Europe to the royal relatives. Thus his objects are also symbols of the well-functioning international network of dynasties in the 19th century.
The exhibition “Fabergé – Gifts from the House of Romanov” illustrates the connection of the Russian imperial family to German principalities using the children of the Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse and by the Rhine and his wife Alice, born princess of Great Britain, as examples. Consequently it does not only focus on the work of Fabergé, but also on the life stories of the givers and recipients. The personalities involved are introduced to the visitors through contemporary photos, selected portraits and personal items.
The exhibition Fabergé – Gifts from the House of Romanov runs from 25 June to 16 October 2016 at the Museum Schloss Fasanerie, Eichenzell, Germany
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.