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Friday, 8 April 2016
Faberge Treasures Coming to Beijing
Topic: Faberge

A representative from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts examines an enamel bowl that once belonged to
the Russian royal family on Wednesday at the Palace Museum in Beijing. (Photo: Cui Meng/GT)
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

An exhibition featuring over 200 pieces of Fabergé artworks from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) will be on display from April 15 to July 17 at the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City.

The exhibition, which will be officially opened next Saturday, is the fruit of collaboration between the Palace Museum and the U.S.’s Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. A precious treasure trove, VMFA's Fabergé collection is the largest outside of Russia. 

Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) was famous for making Easter eggs inlaid with gemstones and precious metals for the Russian imperial family. His revolutionary jewellery designs led to the Fabergé name being equated with exquisite craftsmanship and luxury Russian jewellery. 

“This is not the first time that our museum has hosted a foreign exhibition. Since 2004, we’ve held foreign exhibitions, like those from France and Russia,” said Song Haiyang from Exhibition Dept. of Palace Museum.
“This time around, the exhibits are from the U.S. This is probably the first exhibition on loan from the U.S.”

Karl Gustavovich Faberge was born in 1846 and died in 1920. He is the world’s most renowned goldsmith from Russia. His most outstanding achievement were the 50 Imperial Easter Eggs he made for the Russian emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II. He was honoured by the Tsar as an exclusive jewellery artist for the court. As well as the Easter Eggs, the exhibition will also display diamond brooches, photo frames, pins, tableware, umbrella handles, among other items.

The egg shaped art pieces are made out of gems and enamel, and ornated using precious metals. They are regarded as the classic of jewel art. Karl Gustavovich Faberge, the person who gave birth to them, has now become a synonym of Russian royal treasures. Visitors who hold tickets for the Palace Museum can see the exhibition for free. 
© CCTV, and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:04 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 April 2016 7:53 AM EDT
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Saturday, 9 January 2016
State Hermitage Museum Opens Carl Faberge Memorial Rooms
Topic: Faberge

The Carl Fabergé Memorial Rooms located in the General Staff Building offer visitors a permanent exhibit of 110 items
displayed in two halls, and an additional hall for temporary Fabergé exhibitions. Photo © State Hermitage Museum
On 29 December 2015 the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg opened the Carl Fabergé Memorial Rooms – a new permanent display in the General Staff Building.

The rooms present the legacy of one of Russia’s foremost jewellery firms, founded by the famous Carl Fabergé, and show the subsequent development of the art of jewellers and stone-cutters, the achievements of contemporary specialists. The two halls allotted to the permanent display contain 110 items, while in the third room, for temporary exhibitions, the exhibition “Fabergé and the Great War” opened (running until 26 June 2016).

Carl Fabergé’s firm is one of the most famous in the history of jewellery-making and silversmithing in this country. Its craftsmen produced outstanding pieces of decorative and applied art, working to commissions from the Russian imperial house and European monarchs, as well as the most prominent members of aristocratic families and the grande bourgeoisie. The Fabergé name became synonymous with fine taste and the highest craftsmanship.

The Hermitage possesses several emblematic works by the firm: a copy of the Russian imperial crown jewels, a monumental silver clock (a silver anniversary gift to Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna), the Rothschild clock egg – a gift from President Vladimir Putin for the Hermitage’s 250th anniversary, a rock crystal presentation dish and decorative bouquets of flowers. Among them are items from the Winter, Anichkov and Alexander Palaces: presentation dishes, parts of dining services, vases and cigarette cases created by the firm’s leading jewellers: Mikhail Perkhin, Feodor Afanasyev, Henrik Wigström, Johan Victor Aarne, Anders Nevalainen and Julius Rappoport.

In the period when industry was developing apace and a large stratum of customers was appearing, the number of workshops, firms and factories producing objects for the mass market grew steadily. Artistic trends were, however, dictated by major craftsmen and artist-designers.  This is illustrated by the activities of Ignaty Sazikov and his sons, whose family firm had branches in St Petersburg and Moscow. By winning a gold medal at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, followed by commissions from abroad, they introduced Russian jewellers into European society.

It is indicative that at the factory of which he was the owner from 1830 Ignaty Sazikov organized as early as 1845 one of the first schools in Russia to train specialists in the different crafts involved in jewellery-making.  In addition to this, he invited prominent artists to produce designs and models. Among them were the sculptor Ivan Vitali and the architect and draughtsman Mikhail Bykovsky. The Sazikovs made active use of new Western techniques and purchased modern equipment. Much of what would develop so successfully in Russia’s greatest firm, the House of Fabergé, had its origins at the Sazikovs’ factory in the middle of the century.

The silversmiths produced pieces stylized in imitation of the works of 17th-century Russian craftsmen. That is how the Neo-Byzantine and Neo-Russian styles emerged. His Imperial Majesty’s Cabinet commissioned such items, mainly bratiny (loving cups) and kovshy (drinking scoops) as diplomatic gifts. The chief supplier of such items was the Moscow manufacturer Pavel Ovchinnikov, who in 1873 opened a branch in St Petersburg. He was a major businessman with at times up to 400 people working at his factory, which also had a special school to train up craftsmen. Designing and making models for him he had such eminent artists as Yevgeny Lanceray, Ippolito Monighetti, Feodor Solntsev and A. Zhukovsky. Apart from old shapes and types of ornamentation that they carefully studied from original works of Early Russian art, the craftsmen revived the making and use of coloured enamel on filigree and on a carved ground, painted and cloisonné enamels.

The finest articles created in the Neo-Russian style at Ovchinnikov’s factory and also those of Ivan Khlebnikov, Orest Kurliukov and Feodor Rückert are attractive for the high quality of the execution of the enamels, the rich palette, the bold combination of contrasting colours and the originality of the pattern decorating the body of the piece – especially those in the style of the Abramtsevo  and Talashkino  artists.

Russian jewellers also had a good command of the so-called classic styles. The display includes items in Neo-Baroque, Neo-Classical and Neo-Grecian styles that supplement the Hermitage’s collection of Fabergé creations. They fit into the general picture of the development of Russian jewellery-making and silversmithing, allowing visitors to trace the characteristics of styles, technical and artistic innovations.

The display has been prepared by the State Hermitage’s Department of Western European Applied Art. Its curator is Marina Nikolayevna Lopato, Doctor of Art Studies, head of the Sector of Artistic Metal and Stone.

© State Hermitage Museum. 09 January, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:59 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 9 January 2016 8:31 AM EST
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Wednesday, 30 December 2015
Exhibition: Faberge in the Great War
Topic: Faberge

Note: this article has been edited from the original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
On 30 December 2015, the exhibition “Fabergé and the Great War” opened in the Fabergé Rooms of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The display, which contains 43 items, introduces visitors to unusual products of the House of Fabergé. The unique collection has been provided by the ZAO Russian National Museum in Moscow.

On the eve of hostilities in 1914, around 600 people were working in Fabergé’s workshops. The outbreak of the First World War cut back production, but the firm adapted its workshops to the needs of wartime and began to manufacture items intended for the front. The exhibition presents various types of pieces of this sort – copper and brass field samovars and kettles, saucepans and washstands, a lighter and a spirits cup. The firm produced medical syringes and containers in which they could be sterilized. Of particular historical value is a sterilization vessel included in the exhibition that bears the inscription “Infirmary named after the Heir and Grand Duke Alexei Nikolayevich in the Winter Palace” along with the monograms of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her elder daughters, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatyana, all three of whom served as nurses in the hospital that was set up in the state rooms of the Winter Palace. Another rare item is the basin inscribed “Field Hospital Train" –143 named after Her Imperial Majesty Empress Alexandra Feodorovna”.

After receiving a military order, the Fabergé workshops began to produce percussion tubes, spacing sleeves, grenades and cartridge cases. Fabergé’s Moscow factory was renamed the Moscow Mechanical Works. Fabergé reported to the War Department that “during the war I have opened a mechanical works where some 600 persons are employed, engaged exclusively in work connected with the defence of the state. At the present time, the firm is already completing the first order for 6,500,000 hand grenades, as proof of which I am attaching a notarized copy of the certificate from the Central Military-Industrial Committee with the number 4758.” On 23 March 1917, in a letter to Alexander Kerensky, the Minister of Justice in the new Provisional Government, he wrote that his works was “meeting a large order for the Chief Administration of Artillery for 2,000,000 brass artillery cartridges of the 1915 pattern.” The War Department repeatedly held up the products of Fabergé’s firm as an example of care and precision in manufacturing. Included in the exhibition is the bell that was rung to announce the start and end of the working day at Carl Fabergé’s Moscow Mechanical Works.

At the same time, Fabergé continued to work on commissions for the imperial family. Shortly before the war, for Easter, 6 April 1914, the firm produced a silver Easter egg decorated with the monograms of Emperor Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna that the Empress presented to her husband.

The exhibition curator is Marina Nikolayevna Lopato, Doctor of Art Studies, head of the Sector of Artistic Metal and Stone in the State Hermitage’s Department of Western European Applied Art.
The exhibition “Fabergé and the Great War” runs until 26 June 2016 in the Fabergé Rooms of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

© State Hermitage Museum. 30 December, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:32 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 December 2015 12:06 PM EST
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Tuesday, 22 December 2015
Exhibition: Faberge - Tsar's Court Jeweller and the Connection to the Danish Royal Family
Topic: Faberge

In the spring of 2016, Koldinghus Museum in Kolding, Denmark will present a new exhibition: Fabergé - Tsar's Court Jeweller and the Connection to the Danish Royal Family. Through family connections the jewellery, jewelled utensils and large official gifts from the Fabergé workshop inherited through generations in the Danish royal family will be on display. The exhibition will showcase rarely exhibited Fabergé objects, such as amazing photo frames, fine oil lamps, jewellery and cigarette cases from the collection of the Danish royal family, each with a unique history.

“It is a great honour that as a patron of the museum to open this exhibition on the Russian court jeweller Fabergé," - says HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark - "also, as a lender to the exhibition, it is a particular pleasure to be able to share the stories that relate to the objects with a larger circle of admirers. From my father, King Frederik IX, I and my sisters for example own nice frames and boxes that were created by Fabergé and inherited in the family through my grandmother Queen Alexandrine, whose mother was Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia". HRH Princess Benedikte who officially open the exhibition at Koldinghus on 12 May, 2016.
The exhibition Fabergé - Tsar's Court Jeweller and the Connection to the Danish Royal Family presents about 100 objects with loans from members of the Danish royal family. These works have only very rarely been shown to the public, as they are still used by member of the royal family.

HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark will open the exhibition at Koldinghus on 12 May, 2016
Fabergé is best known for his astonishing and extravagant Easter eggs, which he delivered to the Russian tsar and his family from 1885 until the Russian Revolution in 1917. But the Fabergé workshop's work resulted in much more than eggs.   Fabergé excelled in his attention to detail, his inventiveness and creativity in which he transformed the royal and imperial living rooms to magnificent treasure chambers. Oil lamps wearing small lifelike deer hooves and stomach belts with rubies and diamonds and frames with family photos were surrounded by colorful enamel and foliage of silver and gold. During the exhibit, visitors will have the opportunity to see both private jeweled utensils and official works that were created on the occasion of coronations, anniversaries or royal weddings.

"At Koldinghus we are very proud to have the opportunity to present such a unique exhibition as Fabergé - Tsar's Court Jeweller and the Connection to the Danish Royal Family. The exhibition is intended primarily to give visitors an opportunity to appreciate Faberge's unparalleled craftsmanship and his use of precious stones and metals in the creation of fine jewellery and other objects.” - said Museum Director Koldinghus Thomas C. Thulstrup - “In addition, it is also the aim of the exhibition, to convey the story of two related families: the Russian Imperial Family and the Danish royal family through these breathtaking objects. The objects are unique in their precious materials, admirable technique and ingenuity - but even more interesting is what we in the museum language call provenance: the objects' own history. In this exhibition we show not only museum pieces, some of these things are actually in use. A piece of jewellery that is passed down through generations, a frame with old family photos and a cigarette case, used for festive occasions, says therefore also family and world history and demonstrates that these objects have both sentimental and cultural-historical value. The exhibition can only be realized because we have received crucial support and backing from the Crown and royal family members, as well as the Amalienborg Museum and a number of foundations and partners."

The exhibition Fabergé - Tsar's Court Jeweller and the Connection to the Danish Royal Family will run from 13 May to 25 September, 2016 at the Koldinghus Museum in Kolding, Denmark.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 December, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:15 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 8:43 AM EST
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Saturday, 7 November 2015
Sotheby's London Auction: Russian Works of Art, Faberge & Icons, 1st December 2015
Topic: Faberge

A total of 136 items will be offered at Sotheby’s London on 1st December, 2015. Led by two Imperial presentation boxes which showcase the competition between Carl Fabergé and Carl Hahn for Emperor Nicholas II’s commissions, this winter sale is further embellished by a Private collection of Fabergé, enamel and silverwork. A wide selection of items from the Fabergé workshops includes a number of pieces by Feodor Rückert and the icon section is bolstered by a Private European collection of nineteenth century icons within silver-gilt and enamel oklads. Below, are a mere sample of the Fabergé items offered:

Lot No. 418 - A miniature portrait of Emperor Nicholas II, Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908), circa 1898
Estimate   3,000 — 5,000  GBP

A miniature portrait of Emperor Nicholas II, Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908), circa 1898 on ivory, the Emperor depicted wearing the uniform of the Preobrazhenskii Regiment, the sash of the Order of St Andrew, and a range of medals: the badge of the Order of St Vladimir, 4th class (bestowed on him 30 August 1890), commemorative medals of Alexander III's Coronation (1894) and Reign (1896), the badges of the Danish Order of Daneborg (1894) and the Greek Order of the Saviour (1884), signed in Latin 'Zehngraf' centre left
height 3.4cm, 1 3/8 in.

Lot No. 419 -   An Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold, enamel and hardstone box, workmaster Michael Perchin, St Petersburg, 1899-1903
Estimate  120,000 — 180,000  GBP

Description: circular, carved of nephrite, the hinged lid centred with the rose-cut diamond-set crowned cypher of Emperor Nicholas II on a ground of translucent white enamel over sunburst engine-turning within a diamond-set bezel, the lid border of two-colour gold laurel festoons hung from diamonds, chased leaf rim mount, struck with workmaster's initials and Fabergé in Cyrillic, 56 standard
diameter 8.6cm, 3 3/8 in.

Provenance: Presented by Emperor Nicholas II

Lot No. 420 - An Imperial Presentation jewelled gold and enamel box, Carl Blank for Hahn, St Petersburg, 1899-1908
Estimate  200,000 — 300,000  GBP

Description: oval, the lid applied with the diamond-set crowned cypher of Emperor Nicholas II on a royal blue translucent enamel ground over concentric wavy engine-turning within seed pearls, the scarlet red border applied with diamond-set intertwining gold laurel and ribbon, the sides and base of blue enamel, struck with workmaster's initials and K.Hahn in Cyrillic, 56 standard
width 8.7cm, 3 1/2 in.

Provenance: Presented by Emperor Nicholas II

Lot No. 446 -  A pair of bronze figures, inscribed Fabergé, dated 1912
Estimate  20,000 — 30,000  GBP

Description: cast and cold painted as A.A. Kudinov and N.N. Pustynnikov, personal Kamer-Kazak bodyguards of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, in dress parade uniforms with badges and medals, the coats trimmed with Imperial eagles, the cockaded fleece hats with gold braid, inscribed in Russian on the heels and soles of the boots 'Kamer-Kazak since 1894/A.A. Kudinov/Fabergé/1912' and 'Kamer-Kazak since 1894/N.N. Pustynnikov/Fabergé/1912'
Quantity: 2
height of both 18.2cm, 11 1/4 in.

Click on the link below to view the 92-page catalogue:

Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons Catalogue 


© Sotheby's / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 November, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:44 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 7 November 2015 9:06 AM EST
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Thursday, 22 October 2015
Missing Surprise from Faberge Egg Found in British Royal Collection
Topic: Faberge

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 19, 2015 edition of Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Anna Romanova owns the copyright of the work presented below. Please note that articles published on this blog are for information purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Royal Russia. 

Scientists preparing a new catalogue for the British Royal Collection have accidentally come across the surprise originally contained in the eighth egg from the Fabergé Imperial Easter Series, which for a long time was considered lost.

The surprise of the egg is a miniature mechanized elephant.

Caroline de Guitaut, Senior Curator of the Royal Collection, the art collection of the British Royal Family, was the first to make the announcement during a scientific conference at the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg on Oct. 13.

The eighth egg from the Imperial Diamond Net Series was commissioned by Alexander III as a gifted to his spouse Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1892.

The egg's shell was cut from a semi-transparent apple-green rock with encrusted diamonds in the body. Initially the egg had a silver or golden base with cherubs, considered to symbolize the imperial family's three sons: Nicholas, Mikhail and Georgy.

It is also known that inside the egg there was a surprise in the form of a tiny elephant with a winding mechanism. Its description remained in the Fabergé account books and was translated into English.

After the revolution the egg was confiscated and several years later sold abroad, where it turned up in several private collections, ending up in the McFerrin family collection in the U.S. However, the surprise was lost.

Since British scientists could not prove that the find was precisely the elephant in question, the restorers decided to dissemble the figure.

"A fragment of the elephant's turret was lost," said Guitaut. "It seems that it had just fallen off due to the aged metal. Yet as a result, it was possible to look into the foundation of the figure. When we removed the top part of the turret, my heart nearly stopped beating: It contained the Fabergé hallmark! That is how we found the proof of the discovery's authenticity."

Meanwhile, it is still a mystery how the British Royal Collection obtained the figure. One version says that it was acquired by King George V in 1935.

Easter eggs made by Fabergé are a rarity on the auction market and can fetch as much as $18.5 million. That is the sum Russian collector Alexander Ivanov paid for the Rothschild Egg at Christie's in 2007.

© Anna Romanova / Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 22 October, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:31 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 October 2015 8:51 AM EDT
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Sunday, 21 June 2015
Faberge Exhibition Brings Romanov Luster to Oklahoma City
Topic: Faberge


Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 21st, 2015 edition of NewsOK. The author Michaela Marx Wheatley owns the copyright of the work presented below.

Between 1885 and 1916, Peter Karl Fabergé created fifty lavish eggs as Easter presents for Russia's last two emperors. These supreme examples of jewelers’ art have become symbols of the rise and fall of the Romanov Empire. Oklahomans now have a chance to take a close look at these rare works.

Four Imperial Eggs and nearly 230 other treasures crafted by the House of Fabergé are on view in the special exhibition “Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art through Sept. 27.

“Visitors will experience the wonder of these unique objects, but also have a chance to discover the stories of the people who made them possible, from the Romanov family to Karl Fabergé to the craftsmen themselves,” said Tracy Truels, OKCMOA education curator.

Audio guides designed for children and adults and a hands-on Design Studio, where visitors can create their own Imperial eggs, are available daily. A Gallery Talk Series is scheduled at 1 p.m. on select Sundays throughout the exhibition. Museum staff will discuss a Fabergé topic while touring through the gallery. Each experience is free with paid admission to the Museum.

Introduced to the works of Fabergé at an exhibition in Moscow, Tsar Alexander III appointed Fabergé jeweler and goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court. Fabergé went on to create hundreds of exquisite objects, including the legendary series of eggs.

 “Hundreds of unique objects, including the famed Imperial Easter Eggs, were commissioned by the Romanovs until the Russian Revolution in 1917. The intertwining relationship between Fabergé and the last Russian dynasty has been a real point of fascination for people over the last century,” Fabergé  curatorial assistant Catherine Shotick said.

Alexander III presented an egg each year to the Empress Maria. The gifting tradition was continued by his son, Nicholas II.

“Peter Karl Fabergé worked very closely with the Imperial family, producing work that would become treasured parts of the Romanovs lives,” added Michael Anderson, special exhibition curator. “Naturally, one sees this in the Easter eggs.”

Each egg on display at OKCMOA tells a story; each one meant something to the Romanovs.

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg celebrated Nicholas’ son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. The boy nearly perished that year. He had been so close to death the court had already written his death notice. Alexei survived, and Fabergé designed a special tribute. It is said that it was Empress Alexandra's most cherished egg.

The Pelican Egg, the first Oklahoma audiences see when entering the exhibition, dazzles in its detail. It’s made of engraved gold, topped by a delicate pelican feeding her young. This egg commemorated the Dowager Empress’ patronage of various charitable institutions, which are depicted on a folding screen in eight ivory miniatures.
The Red Cross Egg signaled that the Romanov's protective shell of imperial privilege had been dangerously cracked by the onset of World War I. Alexandra enrolled herself and her older daughters in nurses' training and converted the Winter Palace into a provisional hospital to care for the wounded. The egg reveals portraits the Romanov women dressed in the Sisters of Mercy uniform.

Also on display is an egg celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg, from which a miniature statue of Peter the Great emerges.

However, the show offers much more than eggs from elegant jewelry to exquisite dishes and ornate frames.

Born in 1846, Fabergé was educated in St. Petersburg and Dresden, where he fell under the influence of Renaissance and Baroque art. He trained with goldsmiths in France, Germany and England, eventually building a business catering to the tastes of Russia’s upper class.

“Fabergé’s workshops were managed by only the most accomplished master metal smiths and jewelers, and great care was taken in the selection of materials to assure the highest quality,” said Shotick.

OKCMOA President and CEO E. Michael Whittington said each staff member has been intrigued by a different piece. For him it’s a small star frame with the photograph of Grand Duchess Tatiana.

“For me, the beauty of this object lies in its simplicity and superb craftsmanship. Its tragic history, however it was included in the inventory of personal effects from the murdered Romanov family makes it endlessly fascinating,” Whittington said.

“For whatever it represented, this object matter dearly to the Romanov family,” Anderson added.

Bringing the exhibition to Oklahoma City is the culmination of years of work, Whittington said, acknowledging the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for their collaboration.

 “It has truly been an exciting international collaboration.”

Whittington is excited people are taking note of Oklahoma as an art destination with institutions like the OKCMOA, the Gilcrease and Philbrook in Tulsa, and the Fred Jones Museum of Art in Norman.  

 “Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars builds on the already strong reputation of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in showcasing major exhibitions. Later this summer, we’ll be announcing an even more ambitious exhibition and partnership with one of the world’s leading art museums,” Whittington said.  

Buy tickets online at or at the Museum’s admission desk. Audio guides are available for adults and children to immerse visitors in the artwork and mystery of the Romanov dynasty. 

© Michaela Marx Wheatley / NewsOK. 21 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:11 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 June 2015 9:16 AM EDT
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Sunday, 14 June 2015
Faberge Jewellery Manufacturers Had no Equals in Europe
Topic: Faberge

Portrait of Carl Fabergé. Artist: Unknown
The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg continues to investigate the contribution of Russian businessmen, merchants and patrons of the arts in the country's development. Its collections include a book by Tatiana Muntyan "Fabergé: Jeweller of the Romanovs", which reveals the causes of global recognition of Carl Fabergé’s jewellery. His name is inseparable from the image of imperial courts of Russia and Europe of the late 19th - early 20th century. Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II often used the products of the master to strengthen political, economic and military relations within the country and abroad.

The launch of Fabergé company refers to 1842, when the 2nd guild merchant Gustav Fabergé opened in the Admiralty part of St. Petersburg a modest shop with a workshop of gold and diamond items. By origin, Fabergé family represented French Protestants (Huguenots) who immigrated first to Germany and then settled in Livonia. Like many jewellers of the time, Gustav Fabergé rushed to the jewellery Mecca of the empire - St. Petersburg. It was there that his son Peter Carl (1846-1920) was born, under whom the company earned a well-deserved worldwide fame and popularity, becoming a powerful business enterprise "producing jewellery, silver, and other products of metal and stones."

In his work Carl Fabergé demonstrates a wide palette of styles - from the "Art Nouveau" to "Art Deco", dominated by modernism and the "Russian style." More than two hundred works and historical documents that are included in the above publication, illustrate the wide range of his talent in using a variety of techniques and materials for the realization of the infinite variety of subjects. The magic touch of the master’s hand transformed diamonds, Ural gems, enamel, crystal and precious metals into magnificent decorations, Easter eggs, flowers, animal figures and many other unusual items.

Splendid Easter eggs make up the smallest part of what the company had created during the time of its existence. But when we say "Fabergé" we imagine primarily these brilliant works, the creation of which the great jeweler devoted more than thirty years of his life. Special recognition of connoisseurs was given to the eggs named "Constellation of the Tsarevich" and "Coronation" - with a miniature coach inside. Description of such a magnificent egg in the bill was laconic: "Egg of yellow enamel and a coach." The price: 5500 rubles. The "Coronation" egg reminded the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of the great event when she contracted "a mystical marriage with Russia," as it is written in the book of A. Bohanov "Nicholas II».

The House of Fabergé building at 24 Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa in St. Petersburg, as it looks today
Initially, Peter Carl "was attached to the family and the capital of his father", but in 1872 he headed the business. Thanks to fastidious taste in art and astonishing energy of Carl Fabergé, the company became the largest jewelry enterprise in Russia with a large staff of craftsmen and artists (more than five hundred people) and modern equipment. The company had branches in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London.

The book by I. Zimin and A. Sokolov, "Jewellery treasures of the Russian imperial court", which is also held by the Presidential Library, describes the activities of foreign representative offices of the Russian jewellery company: “Among the personal orders coming directly from members of the imperial family, a significant part covered the gifts to European relatives. ...For example, when preparing a trip of the Empress Maria Feodorovna to Denmark, the imperial family ordered the items with the total cost of 4, 464 rubles: three elephants, a mushroom, two cups with the eagles." At that time it was a considerable sum of money.

The main jewellery production, the main shop and office were located in the house of Carl Fabergé, built in 1900 in the aristocratic district of St. Petersburg, on Bolshaya Morskaya Street designed by architect Karl Schmidt. The house had a safe-lift, which delivered items from the workshops to the selling area on the ground floor.

Many representatives of St. Petersburg elite, such as the prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theatre Matilda Kshesinskaya, kept their jewellery in Fabergé’s house. In the book cited in this publication, Kshessinskaya says that she did not take her jewellery when going to a tour abroad: Fabergé’s company insured them and transported abroad itself. Arriving abroad, Kshessinskaya just mentioned the number of the time by telephone (for purposes of secrecy), and the agent detective brought the needed jewel in the hotel or theatre, while remaining close to it all evening.

In 1885, Carl Fabergé was allowed to be referred to the Supplier of the Imperial Court, and five years later he was bestowed the title of the Appraiser of the Office of His Imperial Majesty - Fabergé was invited to the palaces for the accurate evaluation of quality and value of the stones.

By all accounts, gold and silver, and jewellery that Fabergé so ably represented at home and abroad, was the sector of industry in which the Russians had no equal in Europe.

© Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 June 2015 8:18 AM EDT
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Thursday, 4 June 2015
5 Questions for the Director of 'Faberge: A Life of Its Own'
Topic: Faberge


Click on the start button to watch a short trailer to the film
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 4th, 2015 edition of BLOUINARTINFO. The author Michelle Tay owns the copyright of the work presented below.

Despite being inextricably linked to the lives, loves and tragedy of the last Romanov Tsar Nicholas II and his Empress Alexandra, and to the Russian Revolution, Fabergé has been many things to many people.

To those who lived through World War I, it had gone being the royal jeweler, making incredibly precious works of art of gemstones and enamel, to a workshop producing war supplies.

To auction houses in the post-war period, it was the maker of the famously ornate Imperial Easter eggs, which due to their rarity and the closure of the company by the Bolsheviks in 1918, became almost mythical and extremely valuable.

And to teenagers growing up in the rest of Europe in the 1970s, it was a company that made an ubiquitous fragrance, called Brut, that was marketed by actress Farah Fawcett and boxer Henry Cooper.

With his new documentary Fabergé: A Life of Its Own, British film maker Patrick Mark traces the company’s history through 150 years of art, romance, royalty, politics, tragedy, and corporate changes, providing color and background to all these various perceptions of the company that was founded as a humble jewellery workshop by German jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé.

The film, which will hit theatres globally in June, starts with footage of Fabergé’s dilapidated, abandoned premises, juxtaposed with sumptuous images of some of the numerous (estimated to be about 200,000) classical jewels and objets d’art that, once upon a time, it produced.

The story then weaves its way, through interviews with descendants of the Fabergé family, art historians, contemporary jewellery experts, and of course, collectors of Fabergé’s work, to its modern day iteration as a company dedicated to its Russian heritage while forging ahead in a global economy.

Blouin Lifestyle caught up with Mark about his film-making process:

Q. What was it about Fabergé’s story that prompted you to look into it?

A. I’m not an art historian – I’m a documentary maker, an outsider coming into this world. Brut by Fabergé was a big fragrance in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and was marketed by Farah Fawcett and boxer Henry Cooper. I was intrigued to know how on earth that connected with this Imperial Russian story. It became that the journey of the Fabergé name from the 1880s to today is very rich with many different tangential sidebars.

Q. What did you learn through making this film?

A. The world of Fabergé has always had a mystique attached to it. They seemed to be talismanic objects that evoked this exotic dynasty. The idea that some of the 50 Easter eggs are still out there, possibly unrecognized and ready to be discovered, appeals to a lot of people. I was drawn to the fact that these objects represent tangible connections to a vanished world, and I think the fact that the persons central to the story came to such a tragic end really struck a chord, particularly in America, much more than in Europe.

Q. What, if anything, surprised you the most?

A. What came to me as a surprise is the fact that there are many different perceptions of Fabergé in different parts of the world. A Canadian friend looked at me strangely because he’d only ever heard of the perfume and aftershave. Conversely, a Russian art historian in Moscow couldn’t understand my fascination with Fabergé when there are other Imperial jewellers worth mentioning. And in the UK, an auctioneer told me Fabergé was considered to be garish and vulgar in London in the 1950s, until Sotheby’s in 1963 commissioned Ian Fleming to write a short story about James Bond and a Fabergé egg at auction [which led to the plot of Octopussy. And Kate Moss allegedly used a jewel-encrusted Fabergé egg to carry cocaine and ecstasy around the world with her as she moved from one modeling job to another in the 1990s.

Q. Is there anything you weren’t able to include?

A. We didn’t have time to mention the famous Russian ballerina who amassed an enormous collection of Fabergé in the beginning of the 20th century; the false teeth that were made for a Russian grand duchess; and numerous other stories behind the missing Fabergé eggs.

Q. Was it difficult persuading the museums to let you venture near their precious Fabergé items?

A. The Fabergé community is actually a small one, but I found myself welcomed very generously by all the institutions involved, including The State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Royal Collection in London, The Hodges Family Collection in the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts [which holds five Imperial Easter Eggs bequeathed by Lillian Thomas Pratt in 1947].

Fabergé: A Life of Its Own (2014) will be in theatres worldwide from June 29 
© Michelle Tay - BLOUINARTINFO. 04 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:34 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 June 2015 6:41 AM EDT
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Friday, 29 May 2015
The Fate of the Lost Faberge Masterpieces and Amazing Discoveries
Topic: Faberge

On June, 5 at 19:00 Kieran McCarthy, art expert and director of Wartski, a London-based firm of antique dealers specialising in the work of Carl Fabergé, will give a lecture devoted to the Third Imperial Easter Egg, his unique finding that shook the art world. Fifty Imperial Easter Eggs are known to be delivered by Carl Fabergé to Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916. The Third Imperial Easter Egg (1887) was until its recent rediscovery under intriguing circumstances among the eight lost Imperial Fabergé Eggs.

The Easter Egg with clock in the Louis XVI style, decorated with diamonds, sapphires and rose cut diamonds was given by Alexander III to Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1887. It can be still seen displayed among Maria Feodorvna’s Fabergé treasures on the extant pictures of charity exhibition in the Von Dervis Mansion. The Egg is considered to be sold off abroad some time after the Revolution as many other masterpieces. Anyway a new mention can be found only in 1964 when the Egg was offered for sale as a sophisticated clock without reference to its provenance. Then it was purchased by some private collector, who unfortunately did not realize its significance and tried to sell it at intrinsic value. Today it seems improbable and dreadful but scratches inside the Egg caused by gold samples taking are clearly visible. Desperate to get at least some decent sum of money for this treasure, the owner was sitting in his kitchen in Texas, surfing the Internet for some information about the art object. Having found that the Egg could be a work of the great Russian jeweler, he caught the next available flight to London to meet Kieran McCarthy. A prominent specialist in Fabergé works. McCarthy was intrigued by the amazing story and the next day returned to Texas together with the owner of the Egg. Kieran still recalls with a smile when he saw the Egg for the first time. It was standing modestly on the kitchen counter next to a chocolate cupcake.

On June, 5 at 19:00 the audience will have unique opportunity to learn firsthand all the details about this discovery and the fate of the other seven lost eggs.

The lecture will be delivered on June 5, 2015, at 19:00, in the White Column Hall of the Fabergé Museum.

The lecture is delivered in English with simultaneous translation. The attendance is subject to registration. The number of places is limited. To register, please, send your name, phone number to 
© Fabergé Museum. 29 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:57 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 29 May 2015 3:00 PM EDT
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