How ironic that I started this post last year, put it aside and basically didn’t think about it again until a couple of weeks ago. I then planned on posting for this Easter and again put it aside in my mind, only to come to a “knee jerk” reaction when I heard about an upcoming exhibition at the V&A in London. And then this morning on one of my favorite weekly TV programs, SUNDAY MORNING, (you can view the piece on YouTube) featured the Imperial eggs…obviously I couldn’t let this day go by without posting. Who knew a year ago that we would have the devastating pandemic still with us! I hope you enjoy the piece.
From the The London Times:
“Three of Carl Fabergé’s most exquisite eggs will be displayed in the UK for the first time at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition on the Russian goldsmith, who died in 1920, will open in London in November 2021 and run through early May 2022, and reflect on his connections to the capital, which was home to the only branch of his shops outside Russia.
Fabergé was famous for intricately creating golden bejewelled egg-shaped ornaments for Russian Tsars to give to their wives and mothers.
The collection includes the Moscow Kremlin Egg, from 1906, the Alexander Palace Egg, from 1908, and the Romanov Tercentenary Egg, from 1913.”
“They will be displayed alongside a Fabergé cigarette case featuring a snake laid in diamonds biting its tail, which was given to Edward VII by his mistress, Mrs George Keppel, plus a model of the King’s dog, Caesar, and his racehorse, Persimmon.”
“Kieran McCarthy and Hanne Faurby, curators of the exhibition, said in a statement: ‘The story of Carl Fabergé’s the legendary Russian Imperial goldsmith, is one of supreme luxury and unsurpassed craftmanship.
‘Celebrating Fabergé extraordinary achievements, this exhibition focuses on the over-looked importance of his London branch, the only one outside of Russia. It attracted a global clientele of royalty, aristocrats, business titans and socialites’.”
Here is the beginning of last year’s post….
I know I have done a piece on Fabergé in the past but I was talking with my friend, Rana Lee, about topics she would like me to write about and her first suggestion (of a monthly list of posts) was Fabergé eggs. It is definitely one of my favorite topics so I thought, why not delve into the glory of the Fabergé craft and the depth of love that inspired the Imperial gifts. And what better time than Easter during a period of isolation. To me these miniature pieces of exquisite beauty from the hands of uniquely talented craftsmanship can only help brighten our spirits. Enjoy the journey.
Fabergé began making Imperial Easter eggs when Tsar Alexander III first commissioned them as an Easter present for his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, in 1885. It became a Romanov tradition for the next three decades.
A replica of the first egg which contained a ruby pendant egg inside the hen.
Of course my favorite would be the Lily of the Valley egg. Wouldn’t this be perfection as part of my Lily of the Valley collection….I can dream, can’t I!???
From the Fabergé website:
Lilies of the Valley Egg, 1898
“This pink guilloché enamel Art Nouveau egg, presented by Emperor Nicholas II to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, is virtually smothered with pearl- and diamond-set lilies of the valley sprays, her favourite flower, and is designed in her most-liked style. It stands on four cabriolet feet entwined with diamond-set foliage. The surprise, three miniatures of their eldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana, surmounted by a diamond- and ruby-set Imperial Crown, appears when one of the pearls is twisted.”
1899 Bouquet of Lilies egg clock, one of the tallest is housed in the Kremlin Collection. Glorious in person.
Malcolm Forbes with his collection
I remember, many years ago, roaming around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (I always make a trip to the Met when I am in NYC no matter the duration of my stay in the city) and stumbled upon an exhibition of Faberge eggs…in my mind I think it was the Forbes Collection, but really can’t remember the source, just the beauty of the exquisite workmanship and detail. The Forbes Collection was put up for auction by Sotheby’s in 2004 and the entire collection was purchased by the Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg. It is now housed in the Fabergé Museum in St.Petersburg.
Marjorie Merriweather Post Collection at Hillwood Museum
A few of my favorites…
1914 Mosaic egg with portraits of the Tzar’s children inside.
I was fortunate to see more, when I visited Moscow in 2002, at the Kremlin. To be able to examine them where they were created was an extra special delight! There is truly nothing like these miniature works of art, craftsmanship, and opulence given to celebrate many occasions but most particularly Easter. The Imperial Collection was beyond my wildest imagination… seeing them in their “home” was thrilling.
Cloverleaf egg 1902
The Rose Trellis egg 1907
The last egg? 1917 the only sketch and the following information found on a fantastic site: https://fabergeresearch.com
“Eugène Fabergé told H. C. Bainbridge (1949) that as far as he could remember, the dowager empress’s 1917 Easter egg was to be of Karelian birch. This one-line reference was all that was known of this egg until Tatiana Fabergé uncovered new evidence in her family files. In particular, she found a letter from François Birbaum, Fabergé’s chief designer, to Eugène Fabergé in August 1922. It says in part: “Another egg referred to by Wigström must be the simple wooden one with slight mounting which was to have been presented in 1917, but which Kerensky (Editor’s note: Leader of the Provisional Government) did not allow to be delivered to the Tsar.” (Fabergé, Proler, & Skurlov, Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, London, 1997)”
I had the extreme privilege of working with Tatiana Fabergé when she visited Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago in 2005 with her magnificent collection. I have two signed pieces from her collection, a malachite picture frame and a green enamel egg. She was gracious and signed them for me. She did speak English but was quite reserved and not very talkative. It was obviously a thrill for me to meet the great-granddaughter of Peter Carl Fabergé and learn about her extraordinary life.
Here are just a few details about her from the Fabergé website on the occasion of her death in 2020
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Tatiana Fabergé, a founder member of our Fabergé Heritage Council, passed away on 13th February 2020 at her French residence near the border with Switzerland. The only daughter of Theodore Carl Fabergé, and Tatiana née Cheremeteff she was born in Geneva in 1930. Her father was the third son of Peter Carl Fabergé and her mother a Princess from Georgia. Had it not been for the Russian Revolution it is unlikely that her parents would have ever met – yet alone married. Tatiana was always known as the great-granddaughter of Peter Carl Fabergé and her connection with Georgian royalty was not generally know.”
“With glasnost resulting in the Soviet Union opening its historical archives, the opportunity arose for discovering new aspects of Fabergé’s history. She collaborated with Valentin Skurlov, a Fabergé scholar based in St Petersburg, who in 1989 staged the first exhibition of Fabergé in the USSR. Skurlov found the manuscript memoirs of Franz Birbaum in the archives of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Birbaum was Peter Carl Fabergé’s Swiss head master craftsman from 1896 through to the demise of the firm when it was nationalised and its stock confiscated by the Soviets in 1919.”
“This resulted in their first joint publication, the privately published The History of the House of Fabergé, which were Birbaum’s memoirs in Russian with an English translation. It appeared in 1992 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Fabergé. Although produced economically, this was a very valuable publication for Fabergé scholars and enthusiasts. By contrast, the next volume was very lavish.”
“Christie’s published The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs in 1997. Tatiana co-authored it with Lynette Proler and Valentin Skurlov and included the first ever catalogue raisonné of the Easter eggs Fabergé produced from 1885 for the Emperors Alexandra III and Nicholas II. This was the first book exclusively on Fabergé’s Imperial Eggs to have been published after the opening of the archives in Russia and consequently could draw on previously unseen material, including the original Fabergé invoices.”
“The book therefore broke new ground with the catalogue presenting the eggs in chronological order. This was based on the then known eggs and the descriptions in the archives. Several eggs, which had been regarded as ‘Imperial’ for many year lost this status as they had not been bought by the reigning Emperor. The Forbes Collection boasted a dozen Imperial Eggs prior to the publication of the book, but afterwards this was reduced to nine. Kip Forbes and Tatiana remained on good terms, despite the reclassification.”
I was invitation chair for a Brookfield Zoo gala years ago and the inspiration for the invitation was a Fabergé elephant…here the actual piece and the watercolor illustration for the invitation…
There are many, many books on Fabergé here another co-authored by Tatiana Fabergé.
One of many YouTube pieces…
A 2015 film you can rent on YouTube…
All photos with exception of the watercolor elephant found on Pinterest credits unknown.