Peter the Great Egg by Fabergé

Peter the Great Egg by Fabergé

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Fabergé egg

The most famous are those made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II. They were Easter gifts for their wives and mothers, and are called the 'Imperial' Fabergé eggs. The House of Fabergé made about 52 imperial eggs, of which 46 have survived. [2] Two more were planned for Easter 1918, but were not delivered, due to the Russian Revolution. [3]

Gifts that were ‘immensely personal, yet gloriously flamboyant’

Instead of crafting a dazzling necklace or a breathtaking ring, Fabergé created something deceptively plain: a white enameled egg around two-and-a-half inches tall. But the real treasures were to be found inside. The egg twisted apart to reveal a golden yolk within. Inside the yolk was a golden hen sitting on golden straw. Hidden in the hen was a tiny diamond crown that held an even tinier ruby pendant.

This astonishing creation, known as the Hen Egg, was the first of an eventual 50 Fabergé imperial eggs commissioned annually by the Romanov family’s two final czars: Alexander III and, from 1894, Nicholas II. Fabergé crafted the initial eggs according to Alexander’s specifications. After the first few years, says Fabergé expert Dr. Géza von Habsburg, “he was basically given carte blanche to use his creativity and the craftsmanship of his workshops to produce really the very best that could be imagined as an Easter present.”

These one-of-a-kind creations, given to the czars’ wives, Maria and Alexandra Feodorovna, were “immensely personal, yet gloriously flamboyant,” wrote Toby Faber in Fabergé’s Eggs. No two were even slightly similar, and each contained a surprise meaningful to the recipient. 

The Faberge Imperial Coronation Egg at the Musພ des Arts Dຜoratifs in Paris, 1993.

Manuel Litran/Paris Match/Getty Images

In 1897, Nicholas II gave his wife Alexandra the Imperial Coronation Egg. The shell is made of gold embellished with translucent yellow enamel and overlaid with black enamel double-headed eagles. Inside the white velvet-lined egg is an exquisitely detailed miniature 18th-century golden carriage. The object, which took more than a year to create, is a replica of a coach once owned by Catherine the Great and used in Nicholas and Alexandra’s own 1896 coronation procession.

The 1901 Gatchina Palace egg, which Nicholas II gave to his mother Maria Feodorovna, has a pearl-encrusted shell of gold, enamel, silver-gilt, portrait diamonds and rock crystal. It opens to reveal a faithful rendering of the palace Maria called home.

The Fabergé Gatchina Egg pictured on display in an exhibit, called &aposPalaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style&apos at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion.

A Brief History of the Fabergé Egg

A curator from the Royal Collection examines a mosaic egg, made by Russian jeweller and goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge which was originally commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in 1914 and acquired by Queen Mary in 1933. Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images.

Fabergé firm (Russian). Imperial Rock Crystal Easter

Egg, 19th century. Photo by Virginia

Museum of Fine Arts. Courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Fabergé firm (Russian). Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg, 20th century. Photo by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

House of Fabergé, Rose Trellis Egg, 1907. Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum.

House of Fabergé, Rose Trellis Egg (detail), 1907. Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum.

House of Fabergé, Chanticleer Egg, 1904. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

House of Fabergé, Duchess of Marlborough Egg, 1902. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Rosebud Egg, 1895

Courtesy of the Fabergé Museum

This egg, applied with diamond-set Cupid’s arrows symbolizing love, was the first egg that Tsar Nicholas II gave his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, a few months after their marriage in 1895. Widely acknowledged as predominantly honoring the new Empress and her love of roses, the egg is crafted from multi-colored gold, decorated with bands of rose-cut diamonds, and covered with a translucent, red guilloché enamel. The rosebud surprise inside is a򠯪utiful yellow enamel rose — yellow roses were most precious in her native Germany at the time.ਊt its apex, the egg has a miniature portrait of the young Emperor under a table-cut diamond. Inside, they contained further surprises: a diamond-set crown and a ruby drop,਋ut these have been lost since the Russian Revolution. On view at the Fabergé Museum.


Executed in gold, the curves are set with diamonds and rubies. The body of the egg is covered in laurel leaves and bulrushes that are chased in 14-carat green gold. These symbolize the source of the "living waters". The spiky heads are set with square rubies. White enamel ribbons inscribed with historical details encircle the egg. On the top of the egg is an enameled wreath which encircles Nicholas II's monogram. The bottom of the egg is adorned with the double-headed imperial eagle, made of black enamel and crowned with two diamonds. Ώ]

The egg shell features four miniature watercolors painted by B. Byalz. The paintings representing the "before" and "after" of St. Petersburg in 1703 and 1903. The front painting features the extravagant Winter Palace, the official residence of Nicholas II two hundred years after the founding of St. Petersburg. Opposite this, on the back of the egg, is a painting of the log cabin believed to be built by Peter the Great himself, representative of the founding of St. Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River. On the sides of the egg are portraits of Peter the Great in 1703 and Nicholas II in 1903. Each of the miniatures is covered by rock crystal. The dates 1703 and 1903, worked in diamonds, appear on either side of the lid above the paintings of the log cabin and Winter Palace, respectively. Ώ]

Below each painting are fluttering enamel ribbons with inscriptions in black Cyrillic letters. The inscriptions include: "The Emperor Peter the Great, born in 1672, founding St. Petersburg in 1703", "The first little house of the Emperor Peter the Great]in 1703", "The Emperor Nicholas II born in the 1868 ascended the throne in 1894" and "The Winter Palace of His Imperial Majesty in 1903." ΐ]

The Peter the Great Egg is presented in rich Romanov-red guilloche enamel, hand engine-turned in a pattern representing the waves on the River Neva.
In 24-karat gold on hallmarked sterling silver, the top is adorned with the sea-gryphons found on the City's magnificent Admiralty Building.
To the rear appear the eagles of the Czars, their double-heads symbolizing Russia's conjuncture between Europe and Asia.

The Finial is the Russian Imperial Crown in vermeil set with a cabochon ruby.
The base bears raised anchors, interpolating the distinctive Fabergé swags.
Theo's Holtzapffel lathe, dating from 1861, crafts the ornamentally-turned foot upon which the creation stands.

In the family tradition, there is a surprise within the Egg the statue of Peter the Great on his galloping stallion, rearing to crush the snake of evil, poised atop a granite block.
Modelled in sterling silver throughout, and bearing a patina to resemble Etienne Falconet's original statue, the surprise stands on a hand-turned decorated base.

Interesting facts about Faberge eggs

A Fabergé egg is one of a limited number of jeweled eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company between 1885 and 1917.

After being commissioned to create an Easter egg for the royal family of Russia in 1885, the Imperials liked the result so much that further eggs were commissioned each year.

Fabergé produced one egg per year for Tsar Alexander and then two per year after Nicholas II was crowned.

Each egg took a year or more to make, involving a team of highly skilled craftsmen, who worked in the greatest secrecy. Fabergé was given complete freedom in the design and execution, with the only prerequisite being that there had to be surprise within each creation.

The eggs became increasingly opulent and no expense was spared in their creation. For example, the egg made in 1900, The Trans-Siberian Railway egg, was made of gold, silver, onyx and quartz and its inside was lined with velvet.

This continued until 1917, when the Romanovs were executed by the Bolsheviks.

While Fabergé’s most famous eggs were produced for the Romanov family — he made 50 for Alexander and Nicholas II before the revolution — a many were also commissioned by wealthy collectors.

Another patron Faberge served at the same time as the Imperial Romanovs was the Kelch family. Alex Kelch was a wealthy industrialist who commissioned seven eggs for his wife during their marriage. They rivaled the Imperial eggs in beauty, ingenuity, and, of course, their precious stone extravagance.

Of the 65 known Fabergé eggs, 57 have survived to the present day. Ten of the Imperial Easter eggs are displayed at Moscow’s Kremlin Armory Museum. Of the 50 known Imperial eggs, 43 have survived.

First Faberge egg known as the Hen Egg, it is crafted from gold, its opaque white enamelled ‘shell’ opening to reveal its first surprise, a matt yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multi-coloured, superbly chased gold hen that also opens. Originally, this contained a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant egg was suspended. Unfortunately these last two surprises have been lost.

The Moscow Kremlin Egg is by far the largest of the Fabergé eggs and was inspired by the architecture of the Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspenski) in Moscow. This cathedral was where all the Tsars of Russia were crowned, including Nicholas II himself.

Made in the Rococo style, the Peter the Great Egg celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703. It is made of red, green and yellow gold, platinum, rose-cut diamonds, rubies, enamel, rock crystal, and miniature watercolor portraits on ivory.

The Romanov Tercentenary Egg is made of gold, silver, rose-cut and portrait diamonds, turquoise, purpurine, rock crystal, Vitreous enamel and watercolor painting on ivory. The egg celebrates the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty, the three hundred years of Romanov rule from 1613 to 1913.

The Order of St. George egg is Made during World War I, the Order of St. George egg commemorates the Order of St. George that was awarded to Emperor Nicholas and his son, the Grand Duke Alexei Nikolaievich.

Very important Faberge collection belongs to the British Royal Family. This collection Include three of
the historic eggs. Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother Queen Mary bought the Colonnade Egg Clock, the Mosaic Egg , and the Basket of Flowers Egg.

In 2007, a previously unknown egg surfaced that Fabergé created for the Rothschild family. The egg, translucent pink with a clock built into its surface, sold at auction for approximately $14-million.

The first Fabergé egg was crafted for Tsar Alexander III, who had decided to give his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna, an Easter Egg in 1885, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed [by whom?]  that the Tsar’s inspiration for the piece was an egg owned by the Empress’s aunt,Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark, which had captivated Maria’s imagination in her childhood. Known as the Hen Egg, the first Fabergé egg is crafted from gold. Its opaque white enameled "shell" opens to reveal its first surprise, a matte yellow-gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multicolored gold hen that also opens. The hen contained a minute diamond replica of the imperial crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended, but these last two elements have been lost. [4]

Empress Maria was so delighted by the gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a "goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown" and commissioned another egg the next year. After that, Peter Carl Fabergé was apparently given complete freedom for the design of future imperial Easter eggs, and their designs became more elaborate. According to Fabergé family lore, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take—the only requirement was that each contain a surprise. Once Peter Carl Fabergé had approved an initial design, the work was carried out by a team of craftsmen, among them Michael Perkhin, Henrik Wigström and Erik August Kollin. [citation needed]

After Alexander III's death on November 1, 1894, his son Nicholas II presented a Fabergé egg to both his wife, Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, and his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. Eggs were made each year except 1904 and 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War. [citation needed]

The Imperial eggs enjoyed great fame, and Fabergé was commissioned to make similar eggs for a few private clients, including the Duchess of Marlborough, the Rothschild family and theYusupovs. Fabergé also made a series of seven eggs for the industrialist Alexander Kelch. [citation needed]

St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 during the Great Northern War. Peter moved the Russian capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg and intended the new city to be a "window on the west," in an effort to Westernize Russia. St. Petersburg became a European cultural center and continues to be the most westernized city in Russia. Α]

The Peter the Great Egg was sold in 1930 to Armand Hammer, an American entrepreneur who had business interests in Russia. It was later bought by A la Vieille Russie, New York City. In 1944, it was purchased by Lillian Pratt of Fredericksburg, Virginia (1876�) and bequeathed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1947. It remains on permanent view in their European Decorative Art Collection. Ώ]

Watch the video: Faberge Eggs, Part 1 (May 2022).


  1. Halden

    Incomparable topic

  2. Kendrix

    Smart things, he says)

  3. Rawley

    Not good!

  4. Skeet

    Cheap got stolen, was easily lost.

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