Pearly's Qunol

Go Back Previous Next

The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 1a

The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 1a

The Fabergé Czar Imperial Easter Eggs - part 1a

1890 - Danish Palaces Egg

Dimensions : height 10.2 cm (4 inches) , width 6.7 cm (2.6 inches)


The exterior of this egg is enameled in a mauve iridescent fish scale pattern. It is split into twelve panels. Six vertical lines of rose-cut diamonds and three horizontal lines separate the enameled panels from one another. At each intersection an emerald is set, and the egg is crowned with a medallion of radiating leaves around a cabochon star sapphire. The opposite end of the egg is chased with acanthus leaves.


The egg opens to reveal the surprise, which is a 10-panel screen made of multi-color gold, each with a watercolor of a palace or ship on mother of pearl. The watercolors are all signed by Konstantin Krijitski and dated 1889. The paintings depict, from left to right along the screen, the Imperial yacht Polar Star; Amaliensborg Palace, Copenhagen; Estate of Hvidøre near Copenhagen' the summer residence of Fredensborg Castle; Bernsdorff Castle,Copenhagen; Kronborg Castle, Elsinore; the Cottage Palace, Peterhof Palace; Gatchina Palace near St. Petersburg and the Imperial yacht Czarevna. Each panel is framed with a design of tangent circles with a multi-color gold wreath at the top and stands on Greek meander feet.


Aleksandr III received the Danish Palaces Egg from Fabergé's shop on March 30th 1890 and presented the egg to his wife, Maria Fyodorovna on April 1st. The Czar paid 4,260 silver rubles for the egg.


In January of 1893 the egg was housed at the Gatchina Palace and remained there until the 1917 revolution. In 1917 it was transferred with the rest of the Imperial eggs sent to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin. During the early part of 1922 the egg was transferred to the Sovnarkom, then moved back to the Armory Palace in the summer of 1927.


The Danish Palaces Egg was selected along with 11 others for sale outside of Russia in April 1930, and was sold to Hammer Galleries later that year for 1500 rubles. Hammer Galleries advertised the egg for sale in 1935 for $25,000 and it was sold between February 1936 and November 1937 to Nicolai H. Ludwig of New York. In 1971 it was found in the collection of deceased Matilda Geddings Gray. Since 1972 the egg has been the provenance of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation, and is currently on display in the New Orleans Museum of Art.



1891 - Memory of Azov Egg

Dimensions: Length 9.3 cm (3.7 inches)


This egg is carved from a solid piece of heliotrope jasper, also known as bloodstone. It is decorated in the Lous XV style with a superimposed gold pattern of rococo scrolls, studded with diamonds and chased gold flowers. The clasp is set with a drop ruby and two diamonds. The egg's interior is lined with green velvet.


The surprise is a miniature replica of the cruiser Pamiat Azova (Memory of Azov), executed in red and yellow gold as well as platinum, with small diamonds for windows. The name "Azov" appears on the ship's stern. The ship is set on a piece of aquamarine representing the water. The aquamarine plate has a golden frame with a loop enabling the model to be removed from the egg.


The egg commemorates the voyage made by Czarevitch Nicolai and Grand Duke George to the Far East in 1890.


The trip was made after a suggestion by their parents to broaden the outlook of the future Czar and his brother. At the time, Grand Duke George was suffering from tuberculosis and the voyage only exacerbated it. Czarevitch Nicolai was also the victim of an attempted assassination whilst in Japan and sustained a serious head wound. The Czarina was presented with the egg before these events occurred and it was never one of her favorite eggs.


This is one of the few eggs that has never left Russia. It is currently held in the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.


1892 - Diamond Trellis Egg

Dimensions: Height 10.8 cm (4.3 inches)


The body of the egg is made of translucent pale green jadeite. A diamond is set at either end of the egg and sixteen bands of platinum studded with rose-cut  diamonds emanate from each of them forming a lattice around the whole egg. The inside of the egg is clad with satin. Originally the egg had a base of three cherubs said to represent the three sons of the Imperial couple, the Grand Duke Nicolai (later Czar Nicolai II, 1868 – 1918, George (1871–1899) and Michael (1878 – 1918).


The surprise was the first Fabergé Automaton, an elephant. It was made of ivory, gold, rose-cut diamonds, enamel and brilliant diamonds. It is currently missing.

This surprise had special significance as an elephant appears in the coat of arms of the Danish Royal Family, Empress Maria Fyodorovna’s homeland.


The lapidary work for the diamond trellis egg was executed by Karl Woerffel from the Fabergé workshop.


Currently the egg is held in a private collection in London, England.



1893 - Caucasus Egg

Dimensions: height 9.2 cm (3.6 inches)


This egg displays vibrant ruby enamel on a guilloche surface. Guilloche is an engraving technique in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern or design is mechanically etched into the underlying metal with very fine detail. Multicolored gold garlands are held in place by diamond bow-knots. An extraordinary gem-encircled table-top diamond crowns the object; another completes the base.


One of the surprises is hidden behind the four pearl framed doors that are set around the egg. Behind each little door is a watercolor miniature on ivory that is executed and signed by Krijitski. They depict views of Grand Duke Georg's mountain retreat, the Imperial hunting lodge in Abastumani, in the Caucasus, where he spent most of his life after his tuberculosis was discovered. Each of the doors bears a diamond-set numeral of the year, the four forming the year 1893. Behind the hinged cover at the top of the egg is a portrait of the Grand Duke in his naval uniform.

The other surprise for this egg is missing.


This is the first Imperial egg known to be dated. Ruby red enamel was used only one other time for the Imperial eggs as Alexei's hemophilia was a constant worry for the family.


Currently the egg is located in the New Orleans Museum of Art as part of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation.



1894 - Renaissance Egg

Dimensions: length 13.3 cm (5.2 inches)

This egg is carved from a block of milky chalcedony. It is mounted on a gold enameled base that was closely modeled after an eighteenth century casket by Le Roy. The casket is now located in Dresden at the Grüne Gewölbe Museum. This is one of the few Imperial eggs, designed to sit sideways.


The top of the egg is covered in a lineal pattern of gold trelliswork with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. At each trellis intersection there is a quatrefoil of diamonds with a ruby center. Shells made of diamonds enclose a ruby enameled medallion that carries the date, 1894, set in rose diamonds. On either end of the egg, gold heraldic lions' heads terminate in slender loop handles. The opening is secured by a tiny gold and diamond latch. The inner rim of the egg is decorated with opaque white enameling and gold floral patterns.


The surprise that originally came with the egg is lost, it was probably a grand jewel.


The Faberge invoice mentions pearls, and there are none on the egg, it is therefore conceivable that the surprise itself was a strand of Pearls.


Another theory, advanced by Christopher Forbes, is that the surprise for the Renaissance Egg is the Resurrection Egg, which perfectly fits the curvature of the Renaissance Egg's shell and has a similar decoration in enamel on the base.


Czar Aleksandr III paid 4,750 rubles for the Renaissance Egg.


The egg was confiscated by the Russian Provisional Government in 1917 and was sold alongside nine other eggs for 1,500 rubles to Armand Hammer.


Advertised for sale by Hammer in 1937, it was sold to Henry Talbot De Vere Clifton. It was again sold in November 1949 to the Swingline magnates Jack and Belle Linsky. Attempting to donate their Fabergé collection to the Metropolitan Museum, the Linskys were rebuffed, as the museum stated it was not interested in "Edwardian decorative trivia".


The egg was then sold to the Manhattan antique dealers A La Vieille Russie, where it was purchased by Malcolm Forbes for his collection on May 15, 1965.


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



1895 - Rosebud Egg

Dimensions: Height: 7.4 cm (2.9 inches)


This strawberry red enameled egg is divided into 6 sections, each trimmed with a row of diamonds. The egg is further decorated with garlands of gold laurel swags studded with rose-cut  diamonds and traversed by Cupid's arrows. A miniature of Czar Nicolai II surmounts the egg, and the year is set in the base beneath a diamond.


The egg opens like a bonbonniere to reveal a yellow-enameled rosebud. The rosebud originally contained two tiny surprises, a miniature replica of the Imperial crown, representing Aleksandra's new life as the Empress of Russia, and a ruby egg pendant hanging within it. Both surprises are missing.


After the death of Aleksandr III of Russia, his son, Nicolai II married Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, who subsequently became Empress Aleksandra of Russia, following the ascension to the throne by her husband. Princess Alix missed the rose garden of Rosenhöhe, Darmstadt, and so this egg was to remind her of it during her first Easter with her new husband. The yellow tea rose had been introduced by Parkes from China in 1824 and was the most valued in the Empress’ native Germany. However, the climate in St. Petersburg was too harsh to grow it there. Alexandr III paid 3,250 rubles for it.


The egg embodied Fabergé's embrace of Neo-Classicism, in opposition to the dominance of Art Nouveau in late 19th century contemporary design.


In 1917 the egg was confiscated by the Russian Provisional Government and later sold to Emanuel Snowman of the jewelers Wartski around 1927. It was owned by a certain Charles Parsons in the 1930s, and had disappeared for decades, amid rumors that it had been damaged in a marital dispute. It was this damage that helped Malcolm Forbes identify the egg when he purchased it in 1985 from the Fine Art Society in London. In 2004 it was sold as part of the Forbes Collection to Viktor Vekselberg. The egg is now back in Moscow and visible in the Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow.



1895 - Twelve Monograms or Silver Anniversary or Twelve Panels Egg

Dimensions: height 7.9 cm (3.1 inches)

This egg is covered with blue enamel in the champlevé technique. This means that areas for the enamel were carved out of the gold, leaving thin red gold ribs that form the foliate design. The technique is so refined that it seems as if the gold design was painted on the surface of the egg.

The upper and lower halves of the egg are each divided into six panels separated by rows of diamonds. Each panel contains a Cyrillic cipher for Alexander III and Maria Fyodorovna, set and crowned in diamonds. The Egg opens to reveal velvet lining for the surprise, which is now lost.

The design was very simple because Fabergé only had six months to create the egg. He had to rework the one originally planned before Aleksandr 's death and he was also making an egg for Aleksandra at the same time.


The Twelve Monograms Egg was the first Fabergé egg given by Czar Nicolai II to his mother. It continued the tradition started under his father, Aleksandr III and was presented to Maria in memory of Aleksandr who had died the previous year.


The egg is currently held in the Hillwood Museum in Washington D.C. as part of the Marjorie Merriweather Post Collection.



1896 - Revolving Miniatures or Rock Crystal Egg

Dimensions: height 24.8 cm (9.8 inches), width 9.8 cm (3.8 inches), including stand


The outer shell is made from rock crystal. It is encircled with emerald-green enameled gold studded with diamonds. A 27 carat Siberian emerald is set on the apex of the egg. This cabochon-style emerald is one of the largest gemstones Fabergé ever used in an Imperial egg.


The egg's base sits on a plinth of rock crystal. It has the monograms of the Czarina, as the Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt before her marriage, and later as Aleksandra Fyodorovna , Empress of Russia. Each monogram is surmounted with a diamond crown of the respective royal house. These monograms form a continuous pattern around the base of the egg.


Inside the rock crystal egg is a gold stand holding twelve miniature paintings. The paintings are of the various palaces and residences that were significant to the Czarina. They include the Neues Palais in Darmstadt, Germany where the Czarina was born, Aleksandr Palace at Czarskoe Selo, which was the Imperial family's favorite winter residence and Windsor Castle, near London, England where the Czarina used to visit as a child. Each miniature is framed in gold with an emerald on the top. The frames are attached to a central fluted gold shaft which passes vertically through the egg.


The large cabochon emerald on the apex of the egg, when depressed, engages a mechanism that rotates the miniatures inside the egg. A hook moves down and folds the framed pictures back, like the pages of a book, so two paintings are visible at one time.


The egg was presented by Czar Nicolai II to Aleksandra Fyodorovna on March 24, 1896.


The egg was housed in the Czarina's study in the Winter Palace. In 1917 it was seized by the Kerensky Provisional Government and moved to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin in Moscow along with approximately 40 other eggs. In 1930 it was sold along with nine other eggs by the Antikvariat (Trade Department) to the Hammer Galleries in New York for 8000 rubles, or approximately US$4000.


In 1945 the egg became the last of five Imperial Easter eggs bought by Lillian Thomas Pratt, the wife of the General Motors executive, John Lee Pratt. Upon Lillian and Thomas Pratt's death the egg was willed to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, where it now resides.



1896- Aleksandr III Portraits Egg


The whereabouts of this egg are currently unknown. There are no surviving pictures or drawings.


The Aleksandr III Portraits Egg was made of blue enamel, rose-cut diamonds, sapphires and probably gold. The egg is believed to have contained miniature portraits of Aleksandr III that were probably watercolor painted on ivory.


The egg was presented by Czar Nicolai II to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna.


It is one of four eggs commemorating Czar Aleksandr III. The other three are the missing Empire Nephrite (1902), the Aleksandr III Commemorative (1909), and the Aleksandr III Equestrian Egg (1910).

This is one of eight eggs that are currently untraceable.



1897 - Imperial Coronation Egg

Dimensions: height 12.7 cm (5 inches) length of coach: 9.4 cm (3.7 inches)


The egg is enameled in translucent lime-yellow on a guilloche field of starburst that is reminiscent of the robe worn by the Czarina at her Coronation.


The trellised bands of greenish gold laurel leaves are mounted at each intersection by a gold Imperial double-headed eagle with a rose diamond set on its chest.


A large portrait diamond is set on the top of the egg, within a cluster of ten brilliant diamonds. Through the table of this stone, the monogram of the Empress can be seen. A smaller portrait diamond is set within a cluster of rose diamonds at the other end of the egg. The date 1897 is inscribed on a similar diamond. The egg was presented, together with a glass-enclosed jadeite stand for the display of the Carriage, at a cost of 5650 rubles.


Fitted inside a velvet-lined compartment is a precise gold replica, less than four inches long of the 1793 Imperial coach of Catherina the Great that carried the Czarina Aleksandra to her coronation at Moscow's Uspensky Cathedral.


The color of the original coach was recreated using strawberry colored translucent enamel and the blue upholstery of the interior was also reproduced in enamels. The coach is surmounted by the Imperial Crown in rose diamonds and six double-headed eagles on the roof. It is fitted with engraved rock crystal windows and platinum wheels. Each door is decorated with a diamond-set trellis in gold and an Imperial eagle in diamonds. The carriage is fully functional, with moving wheels, opening doors, actual C-spring shocks, and a tiny folding step-stair.


Missing surprises include an emerald or diamond pendant that hung inside the replica coach, a glass-enclosed jadeite stand for the display of the carriage as well as a stand made of silver-gilt wire.


The Coronation of Czar Nicolai II and his spouse, Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna was the catalyst for the Imperial Coronation Egg's creation. The Coronation on May 14, 1894, was a day of jubilance and pride, celebrated by throngs of spectators. The Russian nobles and guests were gathered on the Eastern Orthodox day of Dormition, the death of Mary, inside Uspensky Cathedral for the actual Coronation.


The Czar gave the egg to Czarina Aleksandra on Easter day, April 25, 1897.


The egg was displayed in the Empress' apartment at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, resting in a jeweled carriage. Upon the fall of the Romanov Dynasty, the egg was confiscated by the Provisional Government in 1917 and was listed among the treasures removed from the Anichkov Palace. It was then dispatched to the Kremlin and finally transferred to the Sovnarkom in 1922 for sale.


This egg was purchased in 1927 by Emanuel Snowman for Wartski a family-owned firm of art and antique dealers in London. The egg was then sold to the collector Charles Parsons in 1934, and reacquired by Wartski in 1945. The egg remained with the company until early 1979.


March 1979 saw the sale of the egg to Malcolm Forbes for $2.16 Million. On February 4, 2004, Sotheby's Auction House announced that more than 180 Fabergé art pieces, including 9 rare Fabergé eggs had been sold to Viktor Vekselberg. The official selling price of the Coronation Egg to Vekselberg was never publicly disclosed by Sotheby's, fueling much speculation. However, CNN reported the day after the sale that " was a very serious offer that the Forbes family accepted." The price of the Coronation Egg was estimated at $24 million. The egg is now back in Moscow and visible in the Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow.



1897 - Dowager or Pelican Egg

Dimensions: height: 10.2 cm (4 inches), width 5.4 cm (2.1 inches)


This egg is made of gold and the ornaments are engraved. It is one of the few eggs that is not enameled all over.


Coinciding with the centennial celebration of the patronage of charitable institutions by the Empresses of Russia, this gold egg is engraved with the commemorative dates "1797-1897" and contains motifs of the Arts and Sciences. Surmounting the egg is a pelican feeding her young, an emblem of motherhood.


The figure of the pelican and its young, in diamonds and opalescent white enamel, represents also tenets of the Christian Faith: “Charity and Sacrifice”. The following inscription is engraved; "Visit our vineyards, O Lord, and we shall dwell in thee."


The surprise is that the egg, when taken from its stand, can be opened up, unfolding into eight oval panels, each rimmed with pearls. The panels are ingeniously concealed in such a manner that they are not visible in the closed egg. Each panel contains a miniature of one of the Institutions of which the Dowager Empress was patroness, and which were founded principally for the education of young girls. These miniatures are painted on ivory by Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908). On the back of the miniatures are listed the institutions portrayed.


Czar Nicolai II presented this egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress, on Easter day, April 25, 1897.



1898 - Lilies of the Valley

Dimensions: height: 15.1 cm (5.9 inches), opened: 19.9 cm (7.8 inches)


This egg is enameled translucent rose pink over a guilloche background and surmounted by a diamond and ruby-set Imperial crown. It is divided into four quadrants with diamond-set borders. Each part is covered with gold-stemmed lily of the valley flowers made of pearls, diamonds and rubies. The finely sculpted gold leaves are enameled translucent green and rising from curved legs formed of wrapped gold leaves


A pearl-set knob at the side of the egg activates a mechanism which causes the crown to rise. This reveals a fan of three diamond-framed portrait miniatures of Czar Nicolai II and his children Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. Each portrait is signed by the miniaturist Johannes Zehngraf. The gold backs of the miniatures are engraved with the date 5.IV.1898.


Czar Nicolai II presented the egg on April 17, 1898 as a gift to the Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna. Faberg's invoice lists this egg as: “April 10. Pink enamel egg with three portraits, green enamel leaves, lilies of the valley pearls with rose-cut diamonds. St. Petersburg, May 7, 1898, 6700r.”


Lilies of the Valley were the favorite flowers of the Empress and pink her favorite color. She must have adored this gift. It also contains, as its surprise, miniatures of her three favorite people in the world: her loved husband Nicolai and her two daughters, Olga (born 1895) and Tatiana (born 1897). Moreover, Fabergé designed the egg in the Czarina's favorite style – Art Nouveau. Doubtless this egg was also one of her favorite objects by the Russian master.


For a brief period of approximately five years, Fabergé championed Art Nouveau in Russia. The present egg of 1898 marks the initial appearance of this style in his oeuvre while the Clover Egg of 1902 (Kremlin Amory Museum, Moscow) is the last dateable example in this idiom created in St. Petersburg for the Imperial family.


The Russian equivalent to French Art Nouveau and German Jugendstil was Stil Moderne and Mir Iskusstva or the World of Art Movement. The driving force behind Mir Iskusstva was Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929).


In 1885 the art patron Savva Mamontov founded a private opera house in Moscow and an artists' colony at Abramtsevo, where a group of artists including Ilya Repin, Vassilii Polenov and Victor Vasnetsov, together with younger artists such as Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov and Mikhail Vrubel, developed new ideas which stood in stark contrast to the established art of the Peredvizhniki , or Wanderers.


The dynamic Diaghilev, with the aid of St. Petersburg artists such as Léon Bakst, Aleksandr Benois and Evgeny Lanceray and the financial backing of Savva Mamontov and Princess Maria Tenisheva, published the group's journal, World of Art , which appeared for six years between 1899 and 1904. A first exhibition of the group's art took place in 1898; a second pioneering exhibition was held at the Stieglitz Museum in early 1899 with participation of such foreign artists as Böcklin, Boldini, Degas, Liebermann, Monet and Renoir and such craftsmen as Lalique, Tiffany and Gallé. Fabergé's interest in this style dovetails neatly with Mir Iskusstva' s existence.


The Lilies of the Valley Egg was displayed at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, which marked the peak of Parisian excitement over Art Nouveau. René Lalique's stand at the fair with its bronze storefront of winged female figures engendered a furor amongst his numerous followers. He was awarded a Grand Prix and the Order of the Legion of Honor for his creations. The same jury which lauded Lalique's work to the heavens was curiously ambivalent about Fabergé's Art Nouveau submissions. The floral decoration of this egg was described as “of delicate taste” but criticized as “too closely adhering to the egg.” The critics would have preferred “three feet instead of four, leaves not terminated by banal scrolls and that the egg should have been set with asymmetrical sprays.”


But then the critics also found fault with another of Fabergé’s masterpieces, the Lilies of the Valley Basket (now in the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection, Fine Arts Museum, New Orleans), which was viewed by them as “without artistic or decorative feeling. We have before us a photograph of nature without the artist having impressed his own style upon it.”


Aleksandra Fyodorovna's interest in Art Nouveau is well documented. Her brother, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, founded a colony of artists on the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt, where they endeavored to create joint works of art or Gesamtkunstwerke of interior design, furniture and pottery.


Inspired by this artistic climate, Aleksandra collected pieces of Gallé and Tiffany glass, Roerstrand and Doulton pottery, many of which were mounted for her by Fabergé's specialist silversmith, Julius Rappoport. These works stood on cornices and mantelpieces in her salons at the Aleksandr Palace, interspersed with Victorian clutter of sentimental character.


The present egg was kept by the Empress in her private apartment in the Winter Palace on the first shelf from the top of a corner cabinet and is described in detail by N. Dementiev, Inspector of Premises of the Imperial Winter Palace, in 1909, including its mechanism ( “At the side of the egg there is a button with a single pearl which, when pressed causes the crown to rise and disclose three miniature medallions framed in rose-cut diamonds).


The Lilies of Valley Egg is clearly visible in a pyramidal showcase, together with other eggs from the collection of Czarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna, at the 1902 von Dervis mansion exhibition. It is also mentioned in a description of the exhibition, albeit confused with the Lilies of Valley Basket, which stood next to it: “The Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna's collection contains an egg containing a bouquet of lilies of the valley surrounded by moss: the flowers are made of pearls, the leaves of nephrite, and the moss of finest gold.”


The Lilies of the Valley Egg was one of nine eggs sold by Antikvariat to Emanuel Snowman of Wartski Jewelers around 1927. Like the Coronation Egg, it too was then sold to Charles Parson in 1934 and bought back by Wartski. It was then sold by Wartski to Mr. Hirst and bought back yet again. In 1979 Kenneth Snowman of Wartski sold the egg to Malcolm Forbes together with the Coronation Egg for a total of $2,160,000.


The egg is now back in Moscow and visible in the Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow.

More Qunol

login to rate

Current Rank:

Added by:  Pearly

Date:  12th Apr 09

Views:  23304

Comments:  0

Bookmarked:  0


Flag Content

Add to Bookmarks

Email to friends

No Alternative Qunol found


Post Comment