Rock Crystal (Fabergé egg)
|Egg with Revolving Miniatures Fabergé egg|
|Customer||Nicholas II presented to Alexandra Fyodorovna/Alexandra Fedorovna|
|Individual or institution||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts|
|Year of acquisition||1947|
|Design and materials|
|Materials used||gold, rock crystal, emeralds, diamonds, vitreous enamel|
|Height||248 mm (9 3/4 in)|
|Width||98 mm (3 7/8 in.)|
|Surprise||Pressing the emerald at the apex revolves the miniature paintings inside the egg|
The Rock Crystal Egg or Revolving Miniatures Egg is an Imperial Fabergé egg, one in a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was created in 1896 for Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. The egg currently resides in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The egg was created by Faberge's workmaster, Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (Russian, 1860–1903) with miniatures by Johannes Zehngraf (Danish, 1857–1908) It stands about 248 mm (9 3/4 in) tall on its stand, with a diameter of 98 mm (3 7/8 in.) The outer shell is rock crystal banded with emerald-green enameled gold studded with diamonds. On the apex of the egg is a 27-carat (5.4 g) Siberian emerald supported by an emerald-green enameled gold mount. This cabochon-style emerald is one of the largest gemstones Fabergé used in any of the Imperial eggs. The egg's base sits on a plinth of rock crystal. The base consists of a colorfully enameled gold double spheroid which is circled twice with rose-cut diamonds. It has the monograms of the Tsarina, as the Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt before her marriage, and later as Alexandra Fedorovna, Empress of Russia. Each monogram is surmounted with a diamond crown of the respective royal house. These monograms form a continuous pattern around the base of the egg.
Inside the rock crystal egg is a gold support holding twelve miniature paintings. The paintings are of the various palaces and residences that were significant to the Empress. Each location holds a special memory for Nicholas and Alexandra in the early days of their courtship, as they had just been married two years prior, in 1894.
When the large cabochon emerald on the apex is depressed it engages a mechanism that rotates the miniatures inside the egg. A hook moves down and folds the framed pictures back, like the pages of a book, so two paintings can be fully seen at one time. Each miniature is framed in gold with an emerald on the apex. The frames are attached to a central fluted gold shaft which passes vertically through the egg.
The locations include:
- The Neues Palais, Darmstadt, Germany: Palace where the Empress was born.
- Kranichstein, Hesse: A favorite summer residence of the Empress' youth.
- Balmoral Castle, Scotland: Childhood holiday destination of Alexandra's grandmother, Queen Victoria.
- Old Grand Ducal Palace (Altes Palais), Darmstadt: Official seat of Alexandra's father, Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse.
- Wolfsgarten, Hesse: Hunting lodge Alexandra's family visited as a child.
- Windsor Castle, near London, England: A residence of Queen Victoria where Alexandra visited as a child.
- Palace Church, Coburg: Site where Alexandra first consented to marry Nicholas.
- Schloss Rosenau, Coburg: A site Nicholas and Alexandra visited the day after their engagement.
- Osborne House, Isle of Wight: Site of Nicholas' visit to see Alexandra while they were engaged.
- The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg: The site of Nicholas and Alexandra's wedding.
- Anichkov Palace, St. Petersburg: Residence of Maria Feodorovna, where Alexandra spent her first year in Russia.
- The Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, near St. Petersburg: the Imperial family's favorite winter residence.
In 1909 the egg was housed in the Empress' study in the Winter Palace. The egg was seized by the Kerensky Provisional Government and moved to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin in Moscow along with approximately 40 other eggs. In 1930, the Rock Crystal Egg was one of the ten Eggs sold by the Antikvariat (Trade Department) to the Hammer Galleries in New York for 8000 rubles, or approximately $4000 U.S. In 1945 the egg became the last of five Imperial Easter Eggs bought by Lillian Thomas Pratt, the wife of a General Motors executive John Lee Pratt. Upon Lillian Thomas Pratt's death in 1947, the egg was willed to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia. It remains on view as part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's European Decorative Art collection.