It’s easter time and what better time of year is there to celebrate the majesty of the most decorated and awesome eggs in the world. It’s a Faberge egg time of year, where Josie Goodbody explores a little of the history behind these most majestic of Object D’art
Several years ago at . Cent we created our own set of eggs with Floral Artist Carly Rogers. below Josie Goodbody, writer sand jewellery connoisseur tells us a tale or two fo the history of these magnificent designs
The most famous of all eggs are the Fabergé Imperial Eggs created between 1885 and 1916 for the Russian Royal Family; the Romanovs. They are the most incredible examples of objet d’art and considered to be the greatest achievement of the renowned Russian Maison.
You will probably recognise the elaborate and intricate style of the two Imperial Eggs below, but the first egg created by Fabergé was exquisitely simple.
THE HEN EGG
Commissioned by Tsar Alexander III in 1865 for his wife, Tsarina Maria Fedorovna for Easter, the most important date in the Russian Orthodox Church, and 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, 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. It is currently owned by Russian billionaire
The Empress was so enamoured by the beautiful present, that the Emperor recognised Peter Carl Fabergé as a “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown”, ordering another egg every year and, very unusually, giving complete freedom for the design of future Easter eggs, which became famously more fantastically extravagant. Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; a further forty were created for Tsar Nicholas II, two each year, one for his mother, Maria Federovna. the second for his wife, Tsarina Alexandra.
No one knew what the egg would be, except Fabergé – the only stipulation was that each one must contain a ‘surprise’ – now we know from where Ferrero was inspired for their kids’ Kinder Surprises!
These are two of my favourite of the Imperial Eggs and so spring-like, with their intricate floral details:
LILIES OF THE VALLEY EGG
This opulent egg was created in 1898 for Alexander’s son, Tsar Nicholas II, who gave it as a gift to his wife, the Tsarina, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. The rose pink guilloché enamelled egg is embellished with pearls & diamonds, and sitting on French-style cabriolet legs of green-gold leaves with rose-cut diamond dewdrops. The gold-stemmed lilies have green glazed leaves & gold flowers set with diamonds, rubies & pearls. The surprise is ‘elevated’ out of the egg by twisting a gold-mounted pearl button to reveal 3 portraits, under the Ruby set Imperial crown: Tsar Nicholas II & his two oldest daughters, Grand Duchess Olga and Grand Duchess Tatiana.
The egg is now part of a private collection and on loan to the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
THE PANSY EGG
This is the second of Faberge’s Art Nouveau eggs (the above’s ‘Lilies’ being the first). The 1899 Pansy Imperial Egg is created from polished and carved nephrite & embellished with 5 gold pansies set with diamonds, rubies & citrines. The base is a gold & silver swirl of twisted twigs & leaves, set with diamonds. The egg’s surprise is a heart-shaped red agate picture frame with a diamond set rim. There are 11 mini monograms of members of the Romanov family, underneath the Imperial Crown. The Pansy Egg is set with 170 rubies totalling 6,46 carats,154 diamonds totalling 1,54 carats and 5 citrines. Tsar Nicholas II gave it to his Tsarina for Easter. Now in the private collection of Louisiana heiress Matilda Gray Stream.
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