Tsarevich (Fabergé egg)
|Tsarevich Fabergé egg|
|Individual or institution||Virginia Museum of Fine Arts|
|Year of acquisition||1947|
|Design and materials|
|Materials used||Lapis Lazuli, gold, diamond|
|Surprise||Framed portrait of Tsarevich Alexis|
The Tsarevich Egg, also known as the Czarevich Egg, is a Fabergé egg, one of a series of jewelled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé. It was created in 1912 for Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna as a tribute by Fabergé to her son the Tsarevich Alexis (Alexei). The egg currently resides in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.
The egg is about five and three-quarters inches tall on its stand, with a diameter of four inches. The outer shell is blue lapis lazuli, with architectural, Louis XV-style gold cagework in a design of leafy scrolls. The gold motifs cover each joint, making the egg look as if it was carved from a single block of lapis. The goldwork includes two Imperial double-headed eagles, as well as cupids, canopies, floral scrolls, flower baskets and garlands. Two large diamonds, one at top and one at bottom, are encrusted into the egg's surface, showing the initials of Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna, the year 1912 and the Imperial crown. The location of the original stand is unknown, however it is thought to have not made it out of Russia when purchased by antiques dealer Armand Hammer.
The "surprise" inside is a Russian double-headed Imperial eagle with a miniature portrait of the Tsarevich Alexis, set in platinum and encrusted with diamonds. The Imperial eagle holds the orb and sceptre representative of the Romanov crown jewels. The intricate frame sits on a lapis lazuli base and can be completely removed from inside the egg. The portrait shows Alexis in his sailor suit, a favorite of the Tsarevich's. The original double-sided watercolor miniature portrait has suffered damage and is still in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The current portrait on display is an archival photograph. Inside the egg, an engraved golden disc with a rose window design serves as a platform for the portrait frame.
Fabergé created the egg as a tribute to Tsarevich Alexis. Unknown to all but the royal family, Alexis was expected to die of hemophilia and was at one point so close to death that the Russian Imperial Court had already drawn up his death certificate. When Alexis survived, Fabergé, who knew of the Tsarevich's health, created the egg for Alexis' mother as a tribute to the miracle of his survival.
Subsequent owners included antiques dealer Armand Hammer, who moved from Paris to New York in the early 1930s. Philanthropist Lillian Thomas Pratt (1876–1947) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, purchased the egg in New York from Hammer in 1933-34. The egg was bequeathed by her in 1947 to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, where it remains on permanent view.
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