ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily
« May 2015 »
S M T W T F S
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31
Entries by Topic
All topics
400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
Alapaevsk
Alexander I
Alexander II
Alexander III
Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
Alexander Palace
Alexandra Feodorovna
Alexandra Nicholayevna, GD
Alexandra Pavlovna GD
Amber Room
Anna Feodorovna, GD
Anna Ioannovna, Empress
Anna Pavlovna, GD
Antiques
Architecture
Auctions
Bagrations
Beautiful Orthodox Churches
Benckendorff, Count Paul
Bolsheviks
Bolshoi
Books
Catherine II
Chavchavadze
Chekhov
Collectibles
Conspiracy Theories
Constantine Constantinovich, GD
Cossacks
Country Estates
Crimea
Dmitri Pavlovich, GD
Dmitri Romanovich
Documentaries
Dowager Empress Maria
Eagar, Margaretta
Easter
Ekaterinburg
Elena Vladimirovna, GD
Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress
Events
Exhibitions
Faberge  «
Frederiks, Count Vladimir
Ganima Yama
GARF
Gatchina
George Alexandrovich, GD
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexa
Grand Duke Mikhail Alexan
Grand Dukes
Holy Royal Martyrs
Imperial Russia
Jewels
Kazan Cathedral
Kerensky, Alexander
Kolchak, Admiral
Kolomenskoye
Kostroma
Kremlin
Kronstadt
Livadia
Maria Alexandrovna
Maria Feodorovna, Empress
Maria Pavlovna, Senior
Maria Vladimirovna GD
Marie Georgievna, GD
Massandra
Mikhail Nikolayevich, GD
Moscow
Museums
Nevsky, Alexander
Nicholas Alexandrovich GD
Nicholas I
Nicholas II
Nicholas Mikhailovich, GD
Nicholas Nicholayevich, GD
Nicholas Romanovich
Nobility
Numismatics
Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
Olga Alexandrovna GD
Olga Konstantinovna GD
Olga Nicholayevna GD
Oranienbaum
Ostankino
OTMA
Palaces
Paley, Princess Natalia
Paul Alexandrovich, GD
Paul Gilbert
Paul I, Emperor
Pavlovsk
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter III
Peter Nicholayevich, GD
Peter the Great
Peterhof
Prince Michael of Kent
Pushkin
Rasputin
Romanov
Romanov Descendants
Romanov Family Album
Ropsha
Royal Russia
Ruriks
Russian Art
Russian Church
Russian Cuisine
Russian Film
Russian History
Russian Imperial House
Russian Monarchy
Russian Orders
Russo-Japanese War
Sergei Alexandrovich GD
St. Petersburg
St. Theodore's Church
State Hermitage Museum
Stieglitz, Alexander
Stolypin, Pyotr
Strelna
Succession
Tauride Palace
Tobolsk
Tsarevich Alexis
Tsaritsino
Tsarskoye Selo
Vera Konstantinovna, Princess
Vladimir Alexandrovich, GD
Vyrubova, Anna
Winter Palace
Witte, Sergei
World War I
Wrangel, Pyotr
Yachts
Yalta
Yelagin Palace
Yusupov
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
The 'Real Romance' of Faberge
Topic: Faberge


Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the May 11th, 2015 edition of Christie's Daily. The author Paul Wilson owns the copyright of the work presented below.

An award-winning new documentary recounts the roller coaster fortunes of the House of Fabergé, whose pre-1917 works inspire levels of devotion among seasoned collectors. Paul Wilson reports in Christie’s Daily.
 
Click here to read the full article, view colour photographs and watch a short VIDEO (in English):

THE ‘REAL ROMANCE’ OF FABERGÉ

© Paul Wilson / Christie’s Daily. 13 May, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:59 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 13 May 2015 7:06 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, 30 April 2015
Wartski: The Faberge Connection
Topic: Faberge


The Third Imperial Egg Exhibtion at Wartski, London, April 2014. Photo © Wartski
 
Copyright Notice: The following article is condensed from Art of Jewellery: The Royal Legacy of Wartski, originally published in the April 29th, 2015 edition of BlouinArtinfo. The author Michelle Tay, owns the copyright of the work presented below.  

It was no ordinary egg that cost a private collector about £20 million to acquire and drew 2,300 people to view it in a four-day exhibition in London last April. It was an Imperial Egg made by Carl Fabergé — specifically, one of eight that were believed to have been lost after the Bolshevik Revolution and the death of the Russian Imperial Romanov family. Made in yellow gold and set with cabochon sapphires and rose diamonds, opening to reveal a watch with diamond-set hands by Vacheron Constantin, the masterpiece was given by Alexander III to the Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1887, making it the third of the 50 Imperial eggs ever made. 

It seemed fitting that Wartski, famed London jewellery and antiques dealer, was the one to find it in 2012 — in the American Midwest kitchen of a part-time dealer, who had bought the egg at a bric-a-brac market for $13,302 thinking he could resell it for its gold value. After all, the legendary firm has handled the resale of 12 other Imperial Eggs in its 150-year history, and has firmly established its position as one of the foremost specialist dealers of Fabergé’s work, which also includes fine jewellery, gold boxes, and silver, as well as historically significant works of art relating to many other members of British and European royalty, along with the trials, triumphs, loves and tragedies of their former owners.

A good example is a diamond and aquamarine brooch by Fabergé that Kenneth Snowman, a former chairman of Wartski, bought for his wife Sallie. According to Geoffrey Munn, Wartski’s current managing director, well-known expert on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and author of the new book Wartski: The First 150 Years, the piece was bought by “the Supreme Autocrat of all the Russias” (Nicholas II, who turned out to be the last Emperor of the Russian Empire) to present to his bride, who would become Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, three months before the wedding — but the story doesn’t end there. This jewel was with the Empress right up to her final moments, before she was taken to be murdered in a prison in Siberia. But there are also less grim finds, such as a Fabergé cup, originally made for the Tsar’s brother, that was carved from a stone called coprolite — which turned out to be fossilized feces. “The combination of gold and dinosaur poo was quite amusing,” exclaims Munn. Discovering such gems, he continues, “is really about going into the field with a trowel and spotting a piece of gold.”

The Wartskis originated from Poland, but were among the three million Polish Jews who emigrated between 1881 and 1917. Morris Wartski founded the first shop in Bangor, North Wales in 1865, then established two more in the fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno by 1970. In 1911, his son-in-law Emanuel Snowman opened another branch of the firm in London, and can be credited with obtaining the Russian treasures that had been confiscated after the Revolution, including several Imperial Eggs that found new homes with the likes of Queen Mary, who acquired the Colonnade Egg from Snowman and gave it to her husband, King George V, in 1931. The first Wartski exhibition was on November 8, 1949, which displayed nearly 400 pieces of Fabergé works.
 
© Michelle Tay / BlouinArtinfo. 30 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:33 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 30 April 2015 5:38 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, 24 April 2015
Faberge Documentary to Get Global Screening
Topic: Faberge

Event cinema specialist Arts Alliance is to bring the award-winning documentary Fabergé: A Life of Its Own to cinemas worldwide for one day only. Directed by Patrick Mark, the film explores the history of the Fabergé dynasty.

The film, which has picked up festival prizes at Newport Beach, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills, will be shown on June 29 in more than 20 countries across more than 400 screens.

Fabergé: A Life Of Its Own tells the epic story of the Fabergé name, from Imperial Russia up to present day -- a period spanning one hundred and fifty years of turbulent history, romance, artistic development and commercial exploitation. 

From the priceless bejewelled Easter eggs of the Romanov Empresses, to the more accessible 1970s allure of 'Brut by Fabergé' aftershave, the brand’s enduring appeal is still recognized by today's fashion-conscious consumers worldwide. The film explores a multi-faceted empire that began with one man -- the prodigiously talented Peter Carl Fabergé, Court Jeweller of St. Petersburg. 

The film was shot at locations across Russia, Europe and the US, including the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and includes interviews with the world’s foremost Faberge authorities, as well as personal reminiscences from Faberge family members, including Tatiana Fabergé, Sarah Fabergé, Géza von Habsburg, Katharina Flohr, John Andrew, Olga Vaigatcheva, André Ruzhnikov and Miranda Carter. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 April, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:53 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 24 April 2015 6:58 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, 13 April 2015
Imperial Russian Splendour at Sotheby's
Topic: Faberge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

© artlyst and The Observer. 06 April, 2015
 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communist leader Lenin had the Rom­­anov treasures stashed away.

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

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

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

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

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

She lived in London and Sand­­ring­­ham before returning to Denmark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is one of these sitting on your mantelpiece?

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

Faberge's Lost Treasures, Still Waiting To Be Found 

© Rachael Bletchly / The Mirror. 04 April, 2015
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

“Kelch Apple Blossom Egg” by Fabergé. 
Gold, diamonds, nephrite, enamel. 
St Petersburg, 1901. 
Craftsman: Michael Evlampievich Perchin. 
© Liechtenstein National Museum, photo Sven Beham
 
The Treasure Chamber Liechtenstein in Vaduz, the only museum of its kind in the Alps opened today in the capital city of Vaduz. The new museum will focus primarily on exhibits belonging to the Princes of Liechtenstein and other private collectors.

Thanks to the generosity of the Princely Family, visitors will have the chance to admire a number of items from the Princely Collections. With over 800 years of tradition, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein is not only one of the oldest ruling families in the world but also the owner of one of the world's oldest and continually expanding collections dating back more than 400 years. Its paintings by the Old Masters and array of arms are world-famous. The exhibition will display a selection of valuable materials, paintings, weapons, hunting knives and gifts presented by kings and emperors, such as Frederick the Great and Emperor Joseph II, to the Princes of Liechtenstein.

The museum will also showcase exhibits belonging to the Liechtenstein collector Adulf Peter Goop (1921-2011), who donated his significant collection to the Principality on 9 June 2010. Highlights include his famous collection of Easter eggs - the most diverse of its kind in the world - and in particular a selection of Russian Easter eggs from tsarist times unparalleled outside Russia. 

One of the highlights of the museum collection is the famous Kelch Apple Blossom Egg by Karl Fabergé. Also known as Jade Crest Egg, it was one of the largest eggs created by Fabergé. The egg was a gift from Alexander Kelch to his wife, Barbara Kelch-Basanova in 1901. 

Alexander Ferdinandovich Kelch was a Russian nobleman who lived in St Petersburg at the end of the 19th century. He is now known mainly as a patron of Fabergé, having commissioned seven eggs for his wife Barbara.

His wealth came from marrying his brother's widow Varvara Petrovna Bazanova, whose family had made a fortune in Siberian industry, particularly gold-mining. The Bazanov business empire collapsed after the Russo-Japanese War; the couple divorced in 1915, Varvara moving to Paris and Alexander remaining as a pauper in Russia; he was arrested and disappeared in Siberia in 1930.

The museum also features bejewelled golden Easter eggs created by other famous goldsmiths such as Pavel Akimovitch Ovtchinnikov and Alexander Edvard Tillander, gold and silver Easter eggs with intricate enamel decoration, and eye-catching porcelain and glass Easter eggs from the Imperial Manufactories. Among the latter are a number of "Tsar and Tsarina Eggs", which were commissioned each Easter by the ruling couple to present as gifts to important people. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 March, 2015
 

 

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


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

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

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

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

Description

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

Marked Fabergé in Cyrillic characters

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Alexandra, date unknown

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

Description

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

Provenance

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

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

Description

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

Provenance

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

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

Description

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

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

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

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

Description

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

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Alexandra, date unknown

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

Description

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

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

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

Description

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

Provenance

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

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

Description

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

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

Acquired by Queen Mary, 1934

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

Description

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

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection 

Provenance

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

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

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:36 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 29 March 2015 6:41 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post

Newer | Latest | Older