Swan (Fabergé egg)
|Swan Fabergé egg|
Modern replica of the Swan Egg
|Customer||Tsar Nicholas II|
|Recipient||Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna|
|Individual or institution||Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland|
|Year of acquisition||1954|
|Design and materials|
|Materials used||Gold, matt opaque mauve enamel, rose-cut diamonds, portrait diamond|
|Surprise||Miniature swan on a "lake" of aquamarine|
The Swan Egg is a Fabergé egg, one in a series of fifty-two jewelled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé. Commissioned in 1906 by Tsar Nicholas II, the egg was presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna on Easter that year for her 40th wedding anniversary.
The egg is made of mauve enamel, with gold trim. On the exterior is a twisted ribbon trellis design of rose-cut diamonds, as well as a portrait diamond on the top inscribed "1906". Another portrait diamond on the other end once held the Imperial monograph. The "surprise" that came inside the egg is a miniature gold and silver swan on a "lake" of aquamarine. By winding a gear beneath one of the wings, the swan's mechanical neck and wings move. In Russia, the swan is considered a symbol of family life and the permanence of the bond of marriage.
The miniature swan is modeled after James Cox’s Silver Swan, an automaton dating from the 18th Century, now housed in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England. Fabergé probably saw the automaton when it was in display in Paris at the International Exposition of 1867 (World's fair).