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 from 1885 to 1917. The most famous of the eggs are the ones made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers, often called the 'Imperial' Fabergé eggs. About 50 eggs were made, and 42 have survived. Another two were planned for Easter 1918, but because of the Russian Revolution were not delivered.
After the Revolution, the Fabergé family left Russia (see House of Fabergé). The Fabergé trademark has been sold several times since, 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Disagreement over dates
- 3 List of the eggs
- 4 Location of eggs
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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 was 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 multicoloured gold hen that also opens. It 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.
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 future Imperial Easter Eggs, and their designs become 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 an initial design had been approved by Peter Carl Fabergé, the work was carried out by a team of craftsmen, among them Michael Perkhin, Henrik Wigström and Erik August Kollin.
After Alexander III's death on November 1, 1894, his son Nicholas II presented a Fabergé egg to both his wife, the 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.
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. A series of seven eggs were also made for the industrialist Alexander Kelch.
Disagreement over dates
It has been suggested that the dates attributed to two of the imperial eggs may be incorrect. It has been suggested the Blue Serpent Clock Egg of 1887 may in fact be the 1895 egg, with the 1896 Twelve Monograms Egg actually the missing Alexander III Portrait Egg of 1898. It is suggested there is a third "missing" egg which would have been made in 1887. The theory is not universally accepted, however, with the author himself stating "not all Faberge scholars agree with my theory". The Hillwood Museum, owner of the Twelve Monograms Egg, make no mention of the theory, and still present it as the 1896 Twelve Monograms Egg.
List of the eggs
List of Fabergé Tsar Imperial Easter eggs
Below is a chronology of the eggs made for the imperial family, though some of the dates have been disputed. An alternative chronology dates the Blue Serpent Clock Egg to 1895 and states that the Twelve Monograms egg is in fact the supposedly lost Alexander III Portraits egg from 1896. Thus, according to that chronology, the 1887 "Gold egg with clock" is lost.
|1885||Hen||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||Blue Serpent Clock||It has been suggested that the Blue Serpent Clock may date from 1895, with the real 1887 egg "lost".||Prince Albert II of Monaco|
|1888||Cherub with Chariot||Also known as the Angel with Egg in Chariot, it was 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||It was crafted and delivered to Alexander III, who presented it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, on Easter 1889.||LOST|
|1890||Danish Palaces||It was 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||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1892||Diamond Trellis||Private Collection|
|1893||Caucasus||Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation. Displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.|
|1895||Twelve Monograms||It has been suggested that the Blue Serpent Clock may be the 1895 egg, and that the Twelve Monograms egg is in fact the lost Alexander III Portraits egg of 1896.||Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA|
|1896||Revolving Miniatures||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA|
|1896||Alexander III Portraits||It has been suggested the Twelve Monograms egg may be the lost Alexander III egg.||LOST|
|1897||Imperial Coronation Egg||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1898||Lilies-of-the-Valley||Made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller 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 Tzar Nicholas II, and was used as a gift to the Tsaritsa, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna.||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1898||Pelican||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA|
|1899||Bouquet of Lilies Clock||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1900||Trans-Siberian Railway||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1901||Basket of Wild Flowers||The Royal Collection, London, United Kingdom|
|1901||Gatchina Palace||Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA|
|1902||Clover Leaf||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1903||Peter the Great||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA|
|1904||No eggs made|
|1905||No eggs made|
|1906||Moscow Kremlin||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1906||Swan||Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland|
|1907||Rose Trellis||Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA|
|1907||Love Trophies||Private Collection|
|1908||Alexander Palace||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1908||Peacock||Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland|
|1909||Standart Yacht||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1909||Alexander III Commemorative||LOST|
|1910||Colonnade||The Royal Collection, London, UK|
|1910||Alexander III Equestrian||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1911||Fifteenth Anniversary||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1911||Bay Tree||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1912||Czarevich or Tsarevich||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA|
|1912||Napoleonic||Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation. Displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA|
|1913||Romanov Tercentenary||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1913||Winter||The State of Qatar|
|1914||Mosaic||The Royal Collection, London, UK|
|1914||Grisaille (also known as the Catherine the Great Egg)||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".||Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA|
|1915||Red Cross with Triptych||Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA|
|1915||Red Cross with Imperial Portraits||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA|
|1916||Steel Military||Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia|
|1916||Order of St. George||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. 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, and Fabergé billed 13,347 rubles for the two. The Order of St. George egg left Bolshevik Russia with its original recipient, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1917||Karelian Birch||The egg was created in 1917, and 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)||Because of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the 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
|1899||Twelve Panel||The Royal Collection, London, UK|
|1900||Pine Cone||Private Collection|
|1901||Apple Blossom||Private Collection|
Other Fabergé eggs
|1885–91||Blue Striped Enamel||Private Collection|
|1902||Duchess of Marlborough||Viktor Vekselberg|
|1902||Rothschild||Russian National Museum, Moscow, Russia|
|1907||Youssoupov||Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland|
|1914||Nobel Ice||Private Collection|
|1899–1903||Spring Flowers||Viktor Vekselberg|
Location of eggs
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, 42 have survived, but there are photographs of four of the eight lost eggs: the 1903 Royal Danish, the 1909 Alexander III Commemorative eggs, the Third Imperial Easter Egg 1887 and the Nécessaire Egg of 1889.
After the Russian Revolution, the House of Fabergé was nationalised by the Bolsheviks, and the Fabergé family fled to Switzerland, where Peter Carl Fabergé died in 1920. The Imperial Family's palaces were ransacked and their treasures moved to the Kremlin Armoury on order of Vladimir Lenin.
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. Totalling 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. In a 2013 BBC Four documentary, Vekselberg revealed he had spent just over $100 Million purchasing the 9 Fabergé eggs. 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 which will display the eggs in his collection.
In November 2007, a Fabergé clock, named by Christie's auction house the Rothschild egg, sold at auction for £8.9 million (including commission). 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.
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. 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] Afterwards, three eggs[note 8] stayed behind while the other twenty-three made a trip to Moscow.
Location of the Imperial Eggs
Location of the Kelch Eggs
|Location/Owner||Image||Number of Eggs||Eggs in collection|
|Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia||2||Hen, Chanticleer|
|The Royal Collection, London, UK||1||Twelve Panel|
|Separate Private Collections||4||Pine Cone, Apple Blossom, Rocaille, Bonbonniére|
Location of the Other Eggs
|Location/Owner||Image||Number of Eggs||Eggs in collection|
|Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia||3||Duchess of Marlborough, Resurrection, Spring Flowers|
|Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland||1||Youssoupov|
|Russian National Museum, Moscow, Russia||1||Rothschild|
|Separate Private Collections||2||Blue Striped Enamel, Nobel Ice|
- The 50 delivered Imperial Eggs, the Karelian Birch Egg, the 7 Kelch Eggs, the Duchess of Marlborough, the Rothschild, the Youssoupov, Nobel, the Resurection, Spring Flowers, and the Blue Striped Enamel eggs - total 65
- Memory of Azov, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Alexander Palace, Standart Yacht, Alexander III Equestrian, Romanov Tercentenary, and Steel Military
- Renaissance, Rosebud, Coronation, Lilies of the Valley, Cockerel, Bay Tree, Fifteenth Anniversary, Order of St. George, and Spring Flowers
- Danish Palaces, Caucasus, and Napoleonic
- Colonnade and Mosaic
- Red Cross with Triptych
- Pansy, Love Trophies, and Blue Striped Enamel
- The Love Trophies egg among them
- Faberge Egg, In Classic Style, History, Easter Egg, James Bond | In Classic Style
- The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs,by Fabergé, Skurlov, Proler, London, 1997, page 90. ISBN 0-903432-48-X
- Corder, Rob (2011-11-18). "Faberge: A Regal Renaissance". ProfessionalJeweller.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Article on the first Hen egg". Mieks.com. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- Von Habsburg, Geza, in, Fabergé Revealed 2011, p. 29, note 62
- Mieks Fabergé Eggs
- Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens - The Twelve Monograms Egg
- Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens - The Catherine the Great Egg
- Faberge - Treasures of Imperial Russia
- Mieks Fabergé Eggs[dead link]
- "Faberge". Treasures of Imperial Russia. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Faberge Eggs - the fate of the eggs". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Buying Putin's Indulgences". Energy Tribune. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "The World's Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Faberge" BBC FOUR
- The clock was previously documented and had been published in 1964 in L'Objet 1900 by Maurice Rheims, plate 29
- Fabergé egg sold for record £8.9m, BBC News, 28 November 2007
- Varoli, John (2007-11-28). "Muse Arts". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- ANTIQUES; Not Imperial, but Still Faberge New York Times, May 28, 1989
- 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fabergé eggs.|
- Mieks; website on pictures, history, whereabouts... of Fabergé eggs
- Fabergé Research Site by Christel Ludewig McCanless
- Details on each of the Fabergé Eggs
- BYU article on the eggs
- Fabergé Fine Jewellery