Fabergé egg

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The Moscow Kremlin egg, 1906.

A Fabergé egg (Russian: Яйца Фаберже́; yaytsa faberzhe) is one of a limited number of jeweled eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company between 1885 and 1917.[1] The most famous are those made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers, often called the 'Imperial' Fabergé eggs. The House of Fabergé made about 50 eggs, of which 43 have survived.[2] Two more were planned for Easter 1918, but were not delivered, due to the Russian Revolution.

After the revolution, the Fabergé family left Russia (see House of Fabergé). The Fabergé trademark has since been sold several times and several companies have retailed egg-related merchandise using the Fabergé name. The trademark is now owned by Fabergé Limited, which makes egg-themed jewellery.[3]

History[edit]

The first Fabergé egg was crafted for Tsar Alexander III, who had decided to give his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna, an Easter Egg in 1885, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed[by whom?] that the Tsar’s inspiration for the piece was an egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark, which had captivated Maria’s imagination in her childhood. Known as the Hen Egg, the first Fabergé egg is crafted from gold. Its opaque white enameled "shell" opens to reveal its first surprise, a matte yellow-gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multicolored gold hen that also opens. The hen contained a minute diamond replica of the imperial crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended, but these last two elements have been lost.[4]

Empress Maria was so delighted by the gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a "goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown" and commissioned another egg the next year. After that, Peter Carl Fabergé was apparently given complete freedom for the design of future imperial Easter eggs, and their designs became more elaborate. According to Fabergé family lore, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take—the only requirement was that each contain a surprise. Once Peter Carl Fabergé had approved an initial design, the work was carried out by a team of craftsmen, among them Michael Perkhin, Henrik Wigström and Erik August Kollin.[citation needed]

After Alexander III's death on November 1, 1894, his son Nicholas II presented a Fabergé egg to both his wife, Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, and his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. Eggs were made each year except 1904 and 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War.[citation needed]

The Imperial eggs enjoyed great fame, and Fabergé was commissioned to make similar eggs for a few private clients, including the Duchess of Marlborough, the Rothschild family and the Yusupovs. Fabergé also made a series of seven eggs for the industrialist Alexander Kelch.[citation needed]

List of the eggs[edit]

List of Fabergé Tsar Imperial Easter eggs[edit]

Below is a chronology of the eggs made for the imperial family. The dating of the eggs has evolved over time. An earlier chronology dated the Blue Serpent Clock Egg to 1887 and identified the egg of 1895 as the Twelve Monograms egg. The discovery of the previously lost Third Imperial Easter Egg confirms the chronology below[5]

Date Egg Image Description Owner
1885 Hen Яйцо "Курочка".JPG Also known as the Jeweled Hen Egg, it was the first in a series of 54 jeweled eggs made for the Russian Imperial family under Peter Carl Fabergé's supervision. It was delivered to Tsar Alexander III in 1885. The tsarina and the tsar enjoyed the egg so much that Alexander III ordered a new egg from Fabergé for his wife every Easter thereafter. Viktor Vekselberg
1886 Hen with Sapphire Pendant Also known as the Egg with Hen in Basket, it was made in 1886 for Alexander III, who presented it to his wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. LOST
1887 Third Imperial Egg A jewelled and ridged yellow gold Egg with Vacheron & Constantin watch stands on its original tripod pedestal, which has chased lion paw feet and is encircled by coloured gold garlands suspended from cabochon blue sapphires topped with rose diamond set bows. In 2014, it was purchased by London-based jeweler Wartski on behalf of an unidentified private collector.[6] Private Collection
1888 Cherub with Chariot Also known as the Angel with Egg in Chariot, crafted and delivered in 1888 to Alexander III. This is one of the lost Imperial eggs, so few details are known about it. LOST
1889 Nécessaire Crafted and delivered to Alexander III, who presented it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, on Easter 1889. LOST
1890 Danish Palaces Danish Palaces Egg.jpg Crafted and delivered to Alexander III, who presented it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, on Easter 1890. Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation and housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.
1891 Memory of Azov Memory of Azov Egg.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1892 Diamond Trellis Diamond Trellis Egg.jpg Private Collection
1893 Caucasus Caucasus Egg.jpg Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation. Displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.
1894 Renaissance Renaissance egg.jpg Viktor Vekselberg
1895 Rosebud Rosebud egg.jpg Viktor Vekselberg
1895 Blue Serpent Clock Before March 2014 mistaken for the third imperial egg Albert II of Monaco collection, Monte-Carlo, Monaco
1896 Rock Crystal Also known as Revolving Miniatures Egg Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
1896 Alexander III Portraits Previously identified as the Twelve Monograms egg of 1895.[7] Surprise is missing. Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA
1897 Imperial Coronation Egg Fabergé egg Rome 05.JPG Viktor Vekselberg
1897 Mauve LOST
1898 Lilies-of-the-Valley Fabergé egg Rome 03.JPG Made under the supervision of the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in 1898 by Fabergé ateliers. The supervising goldsmith was Michael Perchin. The egg is one of two in Art Nouveau style. It was presented on April 5 to Tsar Nicholas II, and was used as a gift to the tsaritsa, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. Viktor Vekselberg
1898 Pelican Pelican (Fabergé egg).jpg Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA
1899 Bouquet of Lilies Clock Bouquet of lilies clock 01 by shakko.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1899 Pansy Private Collection
1900 Trans-Siberian Railway Faberge Train Egg Kremlin April 2003.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1900 Cockerel Viktor Vekselberg
1901 Basket of Wild Flowers Basket of Wild Flowers (Fabergé egg)00.jpg The Royal Collection, London, United Kingdom
1901 Gatchina Palace House of Fabergé - Gatchina Palace Egg - Walters 44500 - Open View B.jpg Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
1902 Clover Leaf Cloveregg2.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1902 Empire Nephrite LOST
1903 Peter the Great Peterthegreategg.JPG Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA
1903 Royal Danish Danish Jubilee Egg.jpg LOST
1904 No eggs made
1905 No eggs made
1906 Moscow Kremlin Moscow Kremlin Egg.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1906 Swan Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland
1907 Rose Trellis House of Fabergé - Rose Trellis Egg - Walters 44501.jpg Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
1907 Love Trophies (also known as the 'Cradle with Garlands' egg) Private Collection
1908 Alexander Palace Alexanderpalace egg 01 by shakko.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1908 Peacock Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland
1909 Standart Yacht Standard yacht (Faberge egg) 02 by shakko.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1909 Alexander III Commemorative Alexander Egg.jpg LOST
1910 Colonnade Colonnade Egg.jpg The Royal Collection, London, UK
1910 Alexander III Equestrian Alexander III Equestrian Faberge egg 03 by shakko.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1911 Fifteenth Anniversary Viktor Vekselberg
1911 Bay Tree Viktor Vekselberg
1912 Czarevich or Tsarevich Tsarevich (Fabergé egg) and surprise.jpg Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA
1912 Napoleonic Napoleonic (Fabergé egg).jpg Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation. Displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
1913 Romanov Tercentenary Romanov Tercentenary Egg-2.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1913 Winter 1913 Winter Egg.jpg The State of Qatar
1914 Mosaic Mosaic (Fabergé egg)00.jpg The Royal Collection, London, UK
1914 Grisaille (also known as the Catherine the Great Egg) Catherine the Great (Fabergé egg).jpg The egg was made by Henrik Wigström, "Fabergé's last head workmaster". It was given to Maria Fedrovna by her son Nicholas II. Its surprise (now lost) was "a mechanical sedan chair, carried by two blackamoors, with Catherine the Great seated inside".[8] Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA
1915 Red Cross with Triptych Red Cross with Triptych egg.jpg Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
1915 Red Cross with Imperial Portraits Red Cross with Imperial Portraits (Fabergé egg)-crop.jpg Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA
1916 Steel Military Faberge Steel Military.jpg Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia
1916 Order of St. George Fabergé egg Rome 06.JPG Made during World War I, the Order of St. George egg commemorates the Order of St. George that was awarded to Emperor Nicholas and his son, the Grand Duke Alexei Nikolaievich.[9] The Order of St. George egg and its counterpart the Steel Military egg were given a modest design in keeping with the austerity of World War I,[10] and Fabergé billed 13,347 rubles for the two.[9] The Order of St. George egg left Bolshevik Russia with its original recipient, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.[11] Viktor Vekselberg
1917 Karelian Birch Birch egg.jpg Created in 1917, the egg was due to be completed and delivered to the tsar that Easter, as a present for his mother, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. But before the egg could be delivered, the February Revolution took place and Nicholas II was forced to abdicate on March 15. On April 25, Fabergé sent the Tsar an invoice for the egg, addressing Nicholas II not as "Tsar of all the Russians" but as "Mr. Romanov, Nikolai Aleksandrovich". Nicholas paid 12,500 rubles and the egg was sent to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich at his palace, for presentation to the empress, but the duke fled before it arrived. The egg remained in the palace until it was looted in the wake of the October Revolution later that year Alexander Ivanov. Displayed at Ivanov's Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany.
1917 Constellation (unfinished) Constellation Faberge egg 01 by shakko.jpg Because of the Russian Revolution of 1917, this egg was never finished or presented to Tsar Nicholas's wife, the Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna. Two eggs have claims to be the Constellation egg: one held at Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow and the other in the possession of Alexander Ivanov and displayed at Ivanov's Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany. Fersman Mineralogical Museum, Moscow or the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden.

List of the Kelch eggs[edit]

Date Egg Image Description Owner
1898 Hen Viktor Vekselberg
1899 Twelve Panel Twelve Panel (Fabergé egg)00.jpg The Royal Collection, London, UK
1900 Pine Cone Private Collection
1901 Apple Blossom Private Collection
1902 Rocaille Private Collection
1903 Bonbonnière Private Collection
1904 Chanticleer Viktor Vekselberg

Other Fabergé eggs[edit]

Date Egg Image Description Owner
1885–91 Blue Striped Enamel Private Collection
1902 Duchess of Marlborough Fabergé egg Rome 07.JPG Viktor Vekselberg
1902 Rothschild Russian National Museum, Moscow, Russia
1907 Youssoupov Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland
1914 Nobel Ice Nobel Ice (Fabergé egg).jpg Private Collection
1885–89 Resurrection Viktor Vekselberg
1899–1903 Spring Flowers Viktor Vekselberg
1899–1903 Scandinavian Fabergé egg Rome 08.JPG Viktor Vekselberg

Location of eggs[edit]

Of the 65 known Fabergé eggs,[note 1]—57 have survived to the present day. Ten of the Imperial Easter eggs are displayed at Moscow's Kremlin Armory Museum. Of the 50 known Imperial eggs, 43 have survived, but there are photographs of three of the seven lost eggs: the 1903 Royal Danish, the 1909 Alexander III Commemorative egg, and the Nécessaire Egg of 1889. The previously lost Third Imperial Easter Egg of 1887 has since been found in the USA and bought by Wartski for a private collector.[12]

After the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks nationalized the House of Fabergé, and the Fabergé family fled to Switzerland, where Peter Carl Fabergé died in 1920.[13] The Imperial Family's palaces were ransacked and their treasures moved to the Kremlin Armoury on order of Vladimir Lenin.[13]

In a bid to acquire more foreign currency, Joseph Stalin had many of the eggs sold in 1927, after their value had been appraised by Agathon Fabergé. Between 1930 and 1933, 14 Imperial eggs left Russia. Many of the eggs were sold to Armand Hammer (president of Occidental Petroleum and a personal friend of Lenin, whose father was founder of the United States Communist party) and to Emanuel Snowman of the London antique dealers Wartski.

After the collection in the Kremlin Armoury, the largest gathering of Fabergé eggs was assembled by Malcolm Forbes, and displayed in New York City. Totaling nine eggs, and approximately 180 other Fabergé objects, the collection was to be put up for auction at Sotheby's in February 2004 by Forbes' heirs. However, before the auction began, the collection was purchased in its entirety by the oligarch Victor Vekselberg.[14] In a 2013 BBC Four documentary, Vekselberg revealed he had spent just over $100 Million purchasing the nine Fabergé eggs.[15] He claims never to have displayed them in his home, saying he bought them as they are important to Russian history and culture, and he believed them to be the best jewelry art in the world. In the same BBC documentary Vekselberg revealed he plans to open a museum that will display the eggs in his collection.[15]

In November 2007, a Fabergé clock, named by Christie's auction house the Rothschild egg, sold at auction for £8.9 million (including commission).[16] The price achieved by the egg set three auction records: it is the most expensive timepiece, Russian object, and Fabergé object ever sold at auction, surpassing the $9.6 million sale of the 1913 Winter egg in 2002.[17][18]

In 1989, as part of the San Diego Arts Festival, 26 Faberge eggs were loaned for display at the San Diego Museum of Art, the largest exhibition of Faberge eggs anywhere since the Russian Revolution.[19] The eggs included eight from the Kremlin,[note 2] nine from the Forbes collection,[note 3] three from the New Orleans Museum of Art,[note 4] two from the Royal Collection[note 5] one from the Cleveland Museum of Art[note 6] and three from private collections.[note 7]

Location of the Imperial Eggs[edit]

Location/Owner Image Number of Eggs Eggs in collection
Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia Kremlin Armoury.jpg 10 Memory of Azov, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Clover Leaf, Moscow Kremlin, Alexander Palace, Standart Yacht, Alexander III Equestrian, Romanov Tercentenary, Steel Military
Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia 9 Hen, Renaissance, Rosebud, Coronation, Lilies of the Valley, Cockerel, Fifteenth Anniversary, Bay Tree, Order of St. George
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - entrance Fall2010.JPG 5 Revolving Miniatures, Pelican, Peter the Great, Czarevich, Red Cross with Imperial Portraits
The Royal Collection, London, UK Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg 3 Basket of Wild Flowers, Colonnade, Mosaic
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation. Displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA Metropolitan Museum of Art.jpg 3 Danish Palaces, Caucasus, Napoleonic
Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland Sandozlogo.jpg 2 Swan, Peacock
Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA Hillwood Museum Exterior Front.jpg 2 Alexander III Portraits, Grisaille
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA Walters-museum-building 1.jpg 2 Gatchina Palace, Rose Trellis
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA Springtime art museum.jpg 1 Red Cross with Triptych
Albert II of Monaco collection, Monte-Carlo, Monaco Albert II Monaco (2008) cropped.jpg 1 Blue Serpent Clock
Alexander Ivanov. Displayed at Ivanov's Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany. 1 Karelian Birch (the egg was never delivered to the Tsar due to the February Revolution)
The State of Qatar Emblem of Qatar.svg 1 Winter
Separate Private Collections 4 Diamond Trellis, Pansy, Love Trophies The Third Imperial Egg

Location of the Kelch Eggs[edit]

Location/Owner Image Number of Eggs Eggs in collection
Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia Vekselberg viktor feliksovich.jpg 2 Hen, Chanticleer
The Royal Collection, London, UK Elizabeth II greets NASA GSFC employees, May 8, 2007 edit.jpg 1 Twelve Panel
Separate Private Collections 4 Pine Cone, Apple Blossom, Rocaille, Bonbonniére

Location of the Other Eggs[edit]

Location/Owner Image Number of Eggs Eggs in collection
Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia Vekselberg viktor feliksovich.jpg 3 Duchess of Marlborough, Resurrection, Spring Flowers
Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland Sandozlogo.jpg 1 Youssoupov
Russian National Museum, Moscow, Russia 1 Rothschild
Separate Private Collections 2 Blue Striped Enamel, Nobel Ice

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ the 50 delivered Imperial eggs, the Karelian Birch Egg, the 7 Kelch eggs, the Duchess of Marlborough, the Rothschild, the Youssoupov, Nobel, Resurection, Spring Flowers, and Blue Striped Enamel eggs—total 65
  2. ^ Memory of Azov, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Alexander Palace, Standart Yacht, Alexander III Equestrian, Romanov Tercentenary, and Steel Military
  3. ^ Renaissance, Rosebud, Coronation, Lilies of the Valley, Cockerel, Bay Tree, Fifteenth Anniversary, Order of St. George, and Spring Flowers
  4. ^ Danish Palaces, Caucasus, and Napoleonic
  5. ^ Colonnade and Mosaic
  6. ^ Red Cross with Triptych
  7. ^ Pansy, Love Trophies, and Blue Striped Enamel

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faberge Egg, In Classic Style, History, Easter Egg, James Bond | In Classic Style
  2. ^ The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs,by Fabergé, Skurlov, Proler, London, 1997, page 90. ISBN 0-903432-48-X
  3. ^ Corder, Rob (2011-11-18). "Faberge: A Regal Renaissance". ProfessionalJeweller.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  4. ^ "Article on the first Hen egg". Mieks.com. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  5. ^ http://www.wartski.com/The%20Third%20Imperial%20Easter%20Egg%20at%20Wartski.htm
  6. ^ Singh, Anita (18 March 2014). "The £20m Fabergé egg that was almost sold for scrap". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Hillwood Museum have identified the twelve monograms Egg previously dated to 1895 as the Alexander III portraits egg of 1896, http://artdaily.com/index_iphone.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=69441#.U00JNu29LCQ
  8. ^ Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens - The Catherine the Great Egg
  9. ^ a b Faberge - Treasures of Imperial Russia
  10. ^ Mieks Fabergé Eggs[dead link]
  11. ^ "Faberge". Treasures of Imperial Russia. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  12. ^ Singh, Anita (18 Mar 2014). "The £20m Fabergé egg that was almost sold for scrap". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Faberge Eggs - the fate of the eggs". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  14. ^ "Buying Putin's Indulgences". Energy Tribune. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  15. ^ a b "The World's Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Faberge" BBC FOUR
  16. ^ The clock was previously documented and had been published in 1964 in L'Objet 1900 by Maurice Rheims, plate 29
  17. ^ Fabergé egg sold for record £8.9m, BBC News, 28 November 2007
  18. ^ Varoli, John (2007-11-28). "Muse Arts". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  19. ^ ANTIQUES; Not Imperial, but Still Faberge New York Times, May 28, 1989

Further reading[edit]

  • Toby Faber. Faberge's Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire (New York: Random House, 2008) ISBN 978-1-4000-6550-9
  • Gerald Hill. Faberge and the Russian Master Goldsmiths (New York: Universe, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7893-9970-0

External links[edit]