Pelican (Fabergé egg)

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Imperial Pelican Fabergé egg
Pelican (Fabergé egg).jpg
Year delivered 1898
Customer Nicholas II of Russia
Recipient Maria Feodorovna
Current owner
Individual or institution Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Year of acquisition 1947
Design and materials
Workmaster Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin
Materials used Gold, diamond, enamel
Height 10.2 cm
Surprise Eight framed miniature watercolors

The Dowager (or Imperial Pelican) Fabergé egg, is a jewelled Easter egg[1] made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in 1898.[2] The egg was made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1898.[2]


The egg was created by Faberge's workmaster, Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (Russian, 1860-1903) with miniatures by Johannes Zehngraf (Danish, 1857-1908)[1] and is made of red gold, diamonds, pearls, gray, pink and opalescent blue enamel and watercolor on ivory. The stand is made of varicolored gold and the egg itself unfolds into a screen of eight ivory miniatures.[2]

The egg is one of the few Faberge eggs that is not enameled over most of its surface. It is made of engraved red gold in the Empire style, surmounted by a pelican in opalescent gray, blue and pink enamel. The pelican is feeding her young in the nest, a symbol of maternal care. The egg is engraved with classical motifs, the commemorative dates 1797–1897, and the inscription "Visit our vineyards, O Lord, and we shall dwell in thee."[3]

The egg is supported on a varicolored gold, four-legged stand and retains its original red velvet case, the only time this color was used for a Tsar Imperial Easter Egg-case.[2]


The egg contains eight oval miniature paintings of charitable institutions patronized by the Dowager Empress: the Xenia Institute, the Nikolai Orphanage, the Patriotic Institute, the Smolny Institute, the Ekaterina Institute, the Pavel Institute, the St. Petersburg Orphanage of Nikolai, and the Elizabeth Institute.[2] The institutions, founded mainly for the education of the daughters of the nobility, are depicted on an extending folding screen of eight ivory panels, each within a pearl border. The miniatures are painted by court miniaturist Johannes Zehngraf. On the back of each is written the name of the institution portrayed. The ninth "panel" is a stand for the other eight.


Because of the dates "1797 and 1897" on the Egg, for many years the Pelican Egg was ascribed to 1897, but when the original Fabergé invoice was found it showed that this Egg was presented to Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1898.

In 1930, the Imperial Pelican Fabergé egg, with the eight oval miniatures, was one of ten Imperial eggs sold by the Antikvariat to Armand Hammer in New York City. Hammer showed the egg along with other Russian treasures at department stores all across the United States.[1] Between 1936 and 1938 it was purchased by Lillian Thomas Pratt, the wife of John Lee Pratt, from Hammer Galleries. Mrs. Pratt willed the Egg to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, upon her death in 1947.[2] It remains on view as part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's European Decorative Art collection.


  1. ^ a b c [Virginia Museum of Fine Arts]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mieks Fabergé Eggs
  3. ^ David Park Curry (1995). "Faberge". Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 

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