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The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 4

The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 4

The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 4



1912 - Czarevich Egg

Dimensions: height 14.5 cm (5.7 inches), width 10 cm (4 inches)

 



The egg is carved from lapis lazuli, covered by Louis XV-style gold cage work in a design of leafy scrolls. Two large diamonds, one at the top and one at the bottom, are set in the egg's surface. They show the initials of Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna, the year (1912) and the Imperial crown.

 

The "surprise" inside is a Russian double-headed Imperial eagle with a miniature portrait of the Czarevich, set in platinum and studded with diamonds. The current portrait appears to be a replacement for the original, which was likely lost at some point.

 

Fabergé created the egg as a tribute to (Czarevich) Alexei. Unknown to all but the royal family, Alexei 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 Alexei survived, Fabergé, who knew of the Czarevich's health, created the egg for Alexei's mother Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna as a tribute to the miracle of his survival.

 

The egg currently resides in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

 

 

1912 - Napoleonic or Imperial Napoleonic Egg

Dimension: height: 11,7 cm (4.6 inches)

 



This egg is made of yellow gold, with emerald panels, rubies and diamonds on its exterior. The interior of the egg is lined with satin and velvet. Double-headed eagles and battle trophies embellish the green shell.

 

The egg still has its "surprise", a six-panel miniature screen depicting in watercolor six regiments of which Maria Fyodorovna was an honorary colonel. Each panel has on its reverse side the royal monogram of the Dowager Empress. The screen itself is made from translucent green emeralds, rose-cut diamonds and white enamel. The hinges of the screen are ax-topped rods.

 

The egg's design commemorates the centenary of the Battle of Borodino during Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia. It celebrates past royal glories while appealing to Russian patriotism at a time when the Romanov dynasty once again faced the uncertainties of war.

 

Czar of Russia Nicolai II gave this egg as a gift to his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna on April 7, 1912.

 

The egg was seized by the post-Russian Revolution governments and was sold in 1930 along with ten other eggs to the Hammer Galleries in New York City. It was sold to a private collector in 1937, where it remained until it was sold in 1951 to Matilda Gray. After her death in 1971 the egg passed to the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation, and in 1972 the egg began being displayed in the New Orleans Museum of Art where it remains to this day.

 

 

1913 - Romanov Tercentenary Egg

Dimensions: height 19 cm (7.5 inches)


 


The white enameled shell of this gold guilloche egg is covered with over eleven hundred diamonds and symbols of royalty.. The decoration shows a rich use of elements of state symbolism: applied, stamped two-headed eagles, royal crowns and wreaths. It holds eighteen miniature portraits of the Czars of the House of Romanov, from Michael Fyodorovich, to Catherine the Great, to Nicolai II. The portraits are painted in watercolor on ivory by artist Vassily I. Zuev and sourounded by round diamond frames.

 

A large diamond bearing the dates "1613" and "1913" is secured at the top of the egg, while a large triangular diamond inserted on the bottom end covers the monogram "A.F." The egg rests upon a threefold heraldic eagle, symbolizing the power and glory of Russia and Romanoff's Dynasty. The base is purple, made of purpurine and imitates a state shield.

 

The surprise is a detailed rotating golden globe. The oceans are made of burnished blue steel and the land is executed in several colors of gold. The globe consists of two northern hemispheres: one shows Russian territory under Czar Michael of Russia in 1613, the other the territory under Czar Nicolai II in 1913.

 

During the reign of Nicolai II, the 300th anniversary of the rule of the Romanov Dynasty was celebrated in 1913 with great ceremony and opulence. This Easter egg commemorates this event.

 

Nicolai presented this egg as an Easter gift to his wife, Aleksandra Fyodorovna on April 27, 1913.

 

The egg is held in the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.

 

 

1913 - Winter Egg

Dimensions: height of egg 10.2 cm (4 inches) overall height 14.2 cm (5.6 inches).

 



The hinged, detachable egg is made of rock crystal finely engraved with pattern that represents ice crystals. The egg opens vertically and the hinge is set with a cabochon moonstone painted on the reverse with the date 1913. It stands on a block of rock crystal carved to represent melting ice and studded with platinum-mounted rivulets made of rose-cut diamonds.

 

The miniature platinum and gold surprise basket is studded with 1,378 diamonds. It contains wood anemones that are realistically carved from a single piece of white quartz, with gold wire stems and stamens. The centre of the flowers are set with garnets and the leaves are delicately carved from nephrite. The flowers lie in gold moss.

 

Czar Nikolai II gave this egg as an Easter gift to his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna.

The Winter Egg was the most expensive egg - it cost just under 25,000 rubles, or about $12,500 (in 1913).

 

In 1927 this egg was sold by Antikvariat to Emanuel snowman of Wartski Jewelers, London. 1934 Warski sold it to lord Alington, London. In 1948 it was owned by the late Sir Bernard Eckstein and in 1949 it was sold by Sotheby’s London to Bryan Ledbrook, UK. Around 1975 the egg disaperead and was relocated in a London safe in 1994. In November 1994 the egg was sold by Christie's Geneva on behalf of a trust to a telephone bidder, acting for a US buyer. In 2002 Christie's New York sold it to the Emir of Qatar.

 


1914 - Mosaic Egg

Dimensions: height: 9.5 cm (3.7 inches)

 



This egg imitates the look of a needle point tapestry. Thousands of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, topaz, quartz and green garnets are pave set in flower patterns. The egg is divided into five oval panels set with half-pearls within lines of opaque white enamel. Five brilliant diamonds are set at each intersection. The egg is further decorated by grilles of rose-cut diamond scrolls and the rounder end is set with a moonstone through which may be seen the gold initials of the Czarina in Russian characters.

 

The surprise is a jeweled and enameled miniature frame painted with the profiles of the five Imperial children. The portraits are framed by green enamel and pearls and surmounted by an Imperial crown made from rose diamonds. The enameled back contains the names of the 5 children, a vase of flowers and the date “1914”.

 

The egg was crafted by Albert Holmström (1876-1925) and the design of the “tapestry” is by Alma Theresia Pihl, daughter of Fabergé's workmaster Oskar Pihl

 

Czar Nicolai II of Russia, presented it to his wife, the Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna on April 19, 1914.

 

In 1933 the egg was sold by the Antikvariat to an unknown buyer. Purchased in 1934 by King George V of the United Kingdom as a gift for his wife, Queen Mary of Teck, it is today part of the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

1914 - Catherine the Great or Grisaille Egg

Dimensions: height 11.8 cm (4.6 inches)

 



This “egg” in the form of a sedan chair made of gold and rock crystal. Pink enameled panels are painted in monochrome cameo style, representing allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences, inspired by French artist François Boucher. The paintings were executed by Vasilii Zuev, a designer employed by Fabergé.

The surprise is an automaton wind-up figure of Catherine the Great. The sedan chair itself was carried by two Africans that could also be wound and would walk carrying the chair. Unfortunately the surprise has been lost.

 

Henrik Wigström, Fabergé's last head workmaster, created this egg for Nicolai II to present to his mother, Maria Fyodorovna, on Easter morning, April 19, 1914

 

Armand Hammer acquired the egg in 1930 from the Antikvariat (the Soviet agency that supervised Russian art sales). In 1931, it was sold to Eleanor Merriweather Post who gave it as a gift to her mother, Marjorie.  

 

 

1915 - Red Cross with Triptych Egg

Dimensions: height 8.6 cm (3.4 inches)

 



Due to the war, this egg is one of the most austere ones, featuring glass, gold, silver and enamel. The outside is decorated with enameled red crosses that are embellished with miniature portraits of Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana in Red Cross Uniforms. This is one of the few eggs that open vertically.

 

Inside the egg, the central scene is the Harrowing of Hell, the Orthodox representation of the Resurrection. Saint Olga, the founder of Christianity in Russia is represented on the left wing of the triptych. The martyr Saint Tatiana is on the right. The interior miniatures are executed by Adrian Prachow, who specialized in icons. The remaining two panels of the doors are inscribed with the crown monogram of the Czarina, and the other one with the year "1915".

 

The egg was created by Henrik Wigström.

 

Czar Nicolai, engaged in the war effort at the front, was unable to present the egg personally to the Czarina.

 

 

1915 - Red Cross with Imperial Portraits or Imperial Red Cross Egg

Dimensions: height 7.7 cm (3 inches)

 



Despite the war, Fabergé was asked to continue the tradition of the Easter eggs. To match the austerity of the war and the efforts of the Romanov family to help their people, Fabergé created another simple egg. It is made of gold, silver, enamel, mother of pearl, ivory, diamonds and rock crystal. Inscribed on the outside of the egg are the words, "Greater Love hath no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends".

 

The surprise is a hinged, folding screen of five oval miniature portraits of women from the House of Romanov. Each wears the uniform of the Red Cross. The portraits are of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, Nicolai II's sister, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, his eldest daughter, Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia, the Czar's second daughter, and the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the Czar's first cousin.

 

Maria Fyodorovna served with the Red Cross during the 1877 Russo-Turkish war, and was later president of the Red Cross from 1894 till her death.

 

At the outbreak of World War I, Aleksandra and her older daughters enrolled as trainee nurses and the Imperial palaces were converted into provisional hospitals.

 

Henrik Wigström created the egg.

 

Czar Nicolai II of Russia presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna probably on Easter, April 4, 1915.

 

In 1930, the Red Cross with Imperial portraits egg was sold with nine other Imperial eggs by the Antikvariat to the Armand Hammer Galleries in New York City. It was purchased by Lillian Thomas Pratt, the wife of GM executive John Lee Pratt, in 1933. Her Fabergé collection was willed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, upon her death in 1947.

 

 

1916 - Steel Military Egg

 



The exterior of this egg is made from steel, coated in translucent enamel, surmounted by a gold crown. It is divided into three sections by two smooth horizontal lines. In the middle section, in inlaid gold, is an image of George the Conqueror in a diamond-shaped frame outlined in laurel leaves. This is topped by the Russian emblem, a double-headed eagle beneath three crowns. Resting on the points of four miniature artillery shells, this egg makes up in sober significance what it lacks in ornamentation.

 

The surprise is a miniature painting by Vassily Zuiev on an easel made of gold and steel. The easel is coated in translucent enamel. The frame of the painting is lined with diamonds.

 

Czar Nicolai presented the egg as an Easter gift to his wife, the Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna probably on April 23, 1916.

 

The egg is one of the ten Imperial eggs that were never sold, and is now housed in the Kremlin Armory.

 

 

1916 - Order of St. George Egg

 



The mat opalescent white enamel egg is painted with a green enamel garlanded trellis, which frames St. George crosses in white and red enamel. A ribbon in the Order's colors of black and orange encircles two medals; one mounted with the Order of the Cross of St. George and the second of silver chased with the portrait of Czar Nicolai II in profile. The badges lift to reveal painted miniatures of Czar Nicolai and Czarevitch Alexis respectively. The silver crowned monogram of the Dowager Empress surmounts the egg; the date of presentation in silver is set directly below.

 

The surprise, a rectangular frame surmounted by a miniature crowned cross of the Order and its entwined orange and black ribbons, contains a miniature of the Czar and his beloved son in military uniform at the Front.

 

The egg honors the Order of St George, which was awarded for military bravery. The egg commemorates the Order of St. George that was awarded to Emperor Nicolai II and his son, the Grand Duke Alexei Nikolaievich.

 

Czar Nicolai II presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna on Easter, April 23, 1916.

 

This was the last egg that the Dowager Empress received, since the Karelian Birch Egg that was intended for her never reached her.

 

The Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna took the Order of St. George Egg with her when she traveled to Kiev in May 1916, thus avoiding the October Revolution. The Russian Provisional Government forced the Dowager Empress to travel to Crimea, from where she fled in 1919 on board HMS Marlborough. Maria Fyodorovna died in Denmark in 1928.

 

The Order of St. George Egg was inherited by Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and after her death in 1960 was sold at Sotheby's for the equivalent of $30,910 to the Fabergé Company.

 

In 2004 it was sold as part of Forbes Collection to Viktor Vekselberg. The egg is now back in Moscow and visible in the Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow.

 

1917 - Karelian Birch or Birch Egg

 



This was the second to the last eggs Fabergé made for the Czars. The egg is made out of Karelian birch panels set in a gold frame. This departure in design from previous eggs, which were far more ornate and gilded, was due to popular discontent with the monarchy and declining fortunes as a result of World War I.

 

Its "surprise" was a miniature mechanical elephant with eight large diamonds, 61 small diamonds and a diamond-studded key engraved “MF” – for Maria Fyodorevna.The elephant has since been lost

 

The Birch Egg was crafted in 1917 and was due to be presented by Nicolai to the Empress that Easter. Before the egg was delivered however, the February Revolution took place and Czar Nicolai II was forced to abdicate on March 15. On April 25, Fabergé sent the Czar an invoice for the egg, addressing Czar Nicolai II not as "Czar of all the Russias" but as "Mr. Romanov Nikolai Aleksandrovich". Nicolai paid 12,500 rubles and the egg was sent to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich at his palace for presentation to the Empress, but the Duke fled before it arrived. The egg remained in the palace until it was looted in the wake of the October Revolution later that year.

 

After the October Revolution the egg was acquired by the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow. It disappeared once again after the museum closed in January 1927.

 

In 1999 Fabergé's great-granddaughter Tatiana published drawings of the designs for the Birch and Constellation Eggs, but it was assumed that they were both incomplete. The Birch Egg publicly reappeared in 2001 when a private collector from the United Kingdom, the descendant of Russian emigrants, sold it to the State Historical Museum. The complete purchase, which cost the museum "millions of dollars", consisted of the egg itself, the case, the wind-up key for the surprise, Fabergé's original invoice to Nicolai II, and a letter from Fabergé to Aleksandr Kerensky complaining about not being paid and asking that the egg be delivered. The "surprise" itself was not in the collector's possession and was likely stolen by soldiers during the October Revolution. The egg remains on display at the State Historical Museum to this day.

 


1917 - Constellation Egg

 



This unfinished egg is made of dark blue glass and is studded with diamonds. It is engraved with the constellations, which were in the sky on the day of the Czarevitch Alexei's birth. It rests on a base made of quartz. The egg was supposed to have a silver rim around it, but lacks the original rim, clockwork motion and dial, as well as the larger part of the diamond stars.

 

Reportedly the egg was in production for presentation to Aleksandra Fyodorovna but was never finished due to the abdication of the Czar prior to Easter 1917.

 

It was found in 2001, at the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow, where it is currently on display.


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Date:  12th Apr 09

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