Fifteen Magnificent Fabergé Eggs on the Exhibition "Lost & Found"
In February 2004, Russian entrepreneur Victor Vekselberg purchased nine Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs from the Malcolm Forbes’ heirs in New York City. The collection was transported to Russia and the new owner decided to make it available for viewing by Russians immediately. The first exhibition of a unique collection of the great Faberge Easter Eggs on display was organized jointly by the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Bond of Time Cultural-Historical Foundation and opened in Patriarch Palace of Moscow Kremlin in May 2004. It was held in the kremlin for about two months and finished on July 25, 2004. It was special exhibits of this collection in Dubrovnik, St. Peterburg and over cities of Russia.
Later, in a 2013 BBC Four documentary, Vekselberg revealed that he had spent just over $100 million purchasing the nine Fabergé Imperial eggs from the Forbes collection. He claims never to have displayed them in his home, saying he bought them because they are important to Russian history and culture, and he believed them to be the best jewelry art in the world. In the same BBC documentary, Vekselberg revealed plans to open a museum to display the eggs in his collection. The result was the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia opened on November 19, 2013.
In the present day, Vekselberg is the single largest owner of Fabergé eggs in the world, owning fifteen of them (nine Imperial, two Kelch, and four other Fabergé eggs) which were presented in the first exhibition in Moscow in 2004 and deserved the magnificent title.
Fabergé workshop was founded in St. Petersburg in 1841 by Gustav Fabergé, whose ancestors had left France way back in 1685 and settled in Estonia. The firm acquired its reputation under his son Carl, however. He received an excellent training, attending one of the best schools in St. Petersburg, then studied in Germany under the goldsmith Friedman, traveled a great deal in Europe and visited England, France, and Italy where he learned about the art of gold-working there. In 1870 Carl took charge of the firm and in 1882 his work was awarded a gold medal at the All-Russian Exhibition in Moscow.
In 1890 he received the Order of the Legion of Honor at the World Fair in Paris. About five hundred people worked in the firm’s workshops. The jewelers made snuffboxes, powder-cases, perfume holders, opera glasses, lorgnettes, brooches, rings, earrings, etc. Their articles show great technical skill and artistic originality.
Fabergé invented souvenirs of various materials in the form of Easter eggs with surprises inside. The eggs became extremely popular and as the result, sixty-nine beautiful jeweled eggs were created by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company between 1885 and 1917. The most famous are those made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers.
Craftsmen in the House of Fabergé owned their own workshops and produced jewelry, silver or objets d'art for the company. When Carl Fabergé took over the running of the business in 1882, its output increased so rapidly that the two Fabergé brothers could not manage all the workshops themselves. They, therefore, decided to establish independent workshops. The owners of these were committed to only work for the House of Fabergé that would supply the sketches and models of the objects to be made. Nothing would be accepted by the House unless it had been approved by either Carl or his appointed deputy.
One of the firm’s most talented masters was Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (Michael Perchin). A peasant by birth and self-taught jeweler, he opened his own workshop in 1886 and worked mainly for the firm. Almost all the Faberge Ester present to the royal family of Romanovs were made at Perchin’s workshop and marked with MP, his initials.
The House of Fabergé made 50 such "Imperial" Easter eggs, of which 43 have survived. Two more were planned for Easter 1918, but were not delivered due to the Russian Revolution in which the Romanov Dynasty was overthrown and all the members of the imperial family executed.
Faberge was also commissioned to make twelve eggs for Alexander Ferdinandovich Kelch, a Siberian gold mine industrialist, as gifts for his wife Barbara (Varvara) Kelch-Bazanova. Though still "Faberge eggs" by virtue of having been produced by his workshop, these eggs were not as elaborate as the Imperial eggs and were not unique in design. Most are copies of other eggs.
Besides the imperial Easter eggs, in the collection are precious eggs which were owned by others, as well as a number of articles of jewelry from the Karl Faberge atelier which serve to broaden our understanding of this outstanding master jeweler.
After the revolution, the Fabergé family left Russia. The Fabergé trademark has since been sold several times and several companies have retailed egg-related merchandise using the Fabergé name. The Victor Mayer jewelry company produced limited edition heirloom quality Fabergé eggs authorized under Unilever's license from 1998 to 2009. The trademark is now owned by Fabergé Limited, which makes egg-themed jewelry.
In album Fifteen Magnificent Easter Eggs of Fabergé of my picture gallery, you can see and learn interesting historical and technical information about all these amazing jewelry artworks.
Reference: Wikipedia "Fabergé egg" , "The Armory" Red Square Publishers 2010
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