Newsletter 2011-2012 Winter

Winter 2011-2012
 
Regular Columns: Auctions | Eggs | Exhibitions | General News | Museum News | Publications | Readers Forum | Searching for Fabergé
 
Auctions
 
December 12, 2011  Hôtel des Ventes, Geneva
A Fabergé Scythian-style gold bracelet made by Erik Kollin sold for $64,485. Over 300 photographs, many signed by members of the Imperial family, realized 50 times the starting price with a total yield of $1.73 million. The collection belonged to Ferdinand Thormeyer, who for three years was the French tutor to Crown Prince Nicholas and his brother George Alexandrovich. More than 2000 private letters, postcards, drawing and photographs from the same source sold in December of 2010.
 
Fabergé Frame and Egg Scent Bottle (Courtesy Christie's)
Fabergé Frame and Egg Scent Bottle (Courtesy Christie's)

Fabergé Frame and Egg Scent Bottle
(Courtesy Christie’s)

 

December 14, 2011  Christie’s New York
The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: Jewelry (Part II)
A frame with a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor and Malcolm Forbes sold for $194,500, or almost 13 times the high estimate. A pendant egg designed as a scent bottle brought $182,500, or 30 times the high estimate of $6,000.

An updated listing of Fabergé and Russian Auction Catalogs, magazines and books available to collectors has been published by Jeffrey Eger.

 
Eggs
 

Imperial Easter Egg Update for Three Gifts from Tsar Alexander III to His Consort Marie Feodorovna:

1887 Third Imperial Egg (Whereabouts Unknown)

Discovery of an auction catalog entry (March 6-7, 1964 Parke-Bernet, New York) in July 2011 by Anna and Vincent Palmade.

1887 Third Imperial Egg (Courtesy Parke Bernet)
1887 Third Imperial Egg
(Courtesy Parke Bernet)
 
Priced Auction Catalog Entry (Courtesy of Jeffrey Eger)
Priced Auction Catalog Entry
(Courtesy of Jeffrey Eger)
 

Tim Adams, art historian and independent researcher, contacted Vacheron Constantin from whom he received this answer: “According to the archives, I can confirm that Vacheron Constantin Genève supplied many movements to Paris, France, but not directly to the House of Fabergé”. Adams suggests the clock or watch in the egg was either purchased somewhere else by Fabergé, or it was added to the egg by a subsequent owner.

1888 Cherub with Chariot Egg (Whereabouts Unknown)

Sketch is based on a photograph of the von Dervis Mansion exhibition in 1902.

(Courtesy Anna and Vincent Palmade)
(Courtesy Anna and Vincent Palmade)
 

1892 Diamond Trellis Egg has been added to the Artie and Dorothy McFerrin Collection from a private collection.

Since its initial presentation the Imperial Easter Egg has only been seen in five exhibitions in over a hundred years – von Dervis Mansion, St. Petersburg (1902), Victoria & Albert Museum, London (1977), Museum of Applied Arts, Helsinki (1980), Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York (1983), National Museum, Stockholm (1997), and twice at auction in 1960 (£2,400) and 2003 (passed in or withdrawn at $1.3 million). Early in 2013 the Diamond Trellis Egg will be exhibited at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences in Texas through the generosity of the new owners.

von Dervis St. Petersburg (1902)
von Dervis St. Petersburg (1902)
Sotheby's London (1960)
Sotheby’s London (1960)
Christie's New York (2003)
Christie’s New York (2003)
 

The Sandoz Foundation Collection was displayed at A La Vieille Russie, New York City, in late 2012. Two readers were especially excited to see three Fabergé eggs (1906 Swan Egg, 1907 Yusupov Egg, 1908 Peacock Egg), since this completed their quest to see all the extant eggs. Here in their own words are their stories:

Carol Warner, Washington (DC):

Yes, I have seen all of the eggs … my husband gave me a book on the Forbes Collection for Christmas 1982 ($4.98 off the discount table at Barnes and Noble!) and that began my interest in Fabergé. I live only a stone’s throw from Hillwood Museum, went often to see their collection, and eventually became a guide in 1985. Seeing the Sandoz collection again in New York in 2011 was just as thrilling as when I first saw it in Switzerland in 1992 sitting at a table in a bank vault! Only this time in New York I did not get to hold them or wind up the peacock and watch it walk, etc. That was the ultimate thrill in my Fabergé world. My picture with the Peacock Egg is on my refrigerator … I think there is still a lot out there to learn about Fabergé and discoveries to be made. Finding the existence of the 1887 Imperial Egg is a reason to carry on!
George W. Terrell, Jr., Gadsden (AL):
 
My fascination with Imperial Russia began in high school when I read a magazine article, “A World Unique and Magnificent”, about Marjorie Merriweather Post, followed by the book, Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Massie. I was hooked for life! I saw my first Imperial eggs at the Virginia Museum around 1971 – next came the eggs at Hillwood Museum and the Walters Gallery Art. On the first of my 18 trips to Russia beginning in 1978, I added the 10 Kremlin eggs, followed by the Forbes Magazine Collection in New York City. For the 1989 San Diego Fabergé exhibition, when 27 Fabergé egg were reunited for the first and only time since the Russian Revolution, it was my rare privilege to be a courier for three eggs with Forbes curator Margaret Kelly. The Winter Egg auction in New York City in 1994 brought my goal of my seeing all known, completed, and delivered eggs close to fruition. All I lacked were the Sandoz eggs, and after three unsuccessful attempts in Monaco to see the Blue Serpent Egg, I saw it at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In November of 2011, I was thrilled to see the three eggs in the Sandoz collection at A La Vieille Russie in New York City. After 40 years my goal had been achieved, because I did see the pieces of the Constellation Egg in a recent Kremlin show. I have not seen the Birch Egg, but then its authenticity has yet to be definitely confirmed. One of the most exciting things ever for me in regard to Fabergé was the discovery during the 1989 San Diego show of the Basket of Wildflowers Egg (Royal Collection) in a 1902 photo of the von Dervis exhibition in St. Petersburg. Archival Fabergé records confirmed my find. I have made so many friends through my Fabergé Quest and as Christopher “Kip” Forbes once wrote on a photograph he inscribed to me … “The best part of Fabergé is the people you get to know”.
Two publications for the venue are the exhibition catalog, Mechanical Wonders: Sandoz Collection and a three volume set, Montres & Automates: La Collection Maurice Sandoz by Bernard Pin, complete with 2D and 3D videos showing the automatons moving. The videos played continuously during the exhibition giving the viewer a splendid view of the peacock and swan in motion. On loan from Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens in Washington (DC) was a column with a miniature of Nikolai Yusupov. The exhibition catalog suggests the miniature “was probably one of the three original miniatures on the Yusupov Egg replaced by Maurice Sandoz when his initials were inserted”.
 
Exhibitions
 

November 22, 2011 – 2016  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fabergé from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection
The five-year loan from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection is on view on a rotating basis in a popular spot in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Gallery in accordance with Matilda Geddings Gray’s expressed wish that a wide public should enjoy the collection. Prior to going on display, some pieces underwent a light professional cleaning thanks to the work of the Metropolitan Museum’s conservators. (Courtesy Valeria Cafa)

March 23 – May 20, 2012  Art Museum Riga Bourse, Riga, Latvia
The newest museum in Riga in its Fabergé exhibition is featuring works from the St. Petersburg and Moscow shops. (Courtesy Paul Kulikovsky, Romanov News)

Fabergé Exhibitions during Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Year:

March 16 – November 4, 2012  Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
Treasures from the Queen’s Palaces
A diamond-studded Fabergé notebook packed with autographs and a handwritten note dated June 21, 1897, by Queen Victoria, and two Easters eggs will be part of twenty Fabergé objects on display.

March 31 – June 17, 2012  Harewood House in Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Royal Harewood, Celebrating the Life of the Yorkshire Princess
Fabergé objects from the Harewood Collection, for 40 years the home of Princess Mary, The Princess Royal, are supplementing a collection of photographs lent by The Queen from the Royal Collection.

Queen Victoria's Fabergé Notebook (Courtesy The Royal Collection)
Queen Victoria’s Fabergé Notebook
(Courtesy The Royal Collection)
Fabergé Bonbonniere (Courtesy Wartski)
Fabergé Bonbonniere
(Courtesy Wartski)
 
May 15 – May 25, 2012 Wartski, London
A Diamond Jubilee Tribute, Fabergé from a Private Collection
Studies of animals and flowers from a collection of over 150 works assembled over 35 years will be on view in aid of The Samaritans. Thomas Moore, Sr., an anglophile who lives in the United States, in his blog shares a one-of-kind inside view of Wartski at 14 Grafton Street.

April 21 – July 1, 2012  Stark Museum in the Memorial Student Center, Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas
The Allure of Fabergé: Selections from the Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Collection
Fabergé objects selected from the McFerrin Collection will be the first of two traveling exhibitions from this extensive collection recently formed. Fifty objects, most of them not shown in exhibitions before, will be complemented by a companion venue recreating flower arrangements from the opulent years of the Romanov reign of the last tsar

August 1, 2012 for approximately 2 years Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
Fabergé Galleries will close for an international tour and major renovations of the space.

October 14, 2012 – January 20, 2013  Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
Designing Luxury from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
More than 200 objects including four Imperial Eggs from the Pratt Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond will be on display. (Courtesy Yao-Fen You)

 
General News
 
Correction to the feature story, In Memory of Konstantin Krijitski (1859-1911) – His 100th Anniversary by Tatiana Cheboksarova and Galina Korneva, published in the Fabergé Research Newsletter, Fall 11. The editors regret the error which occurred with the last two lines of the essay. They should read:
 
Grave of Konstantin Krijitski (Courtesy of Galina Korneva)
Grave of Konstantin Krijitski
(Courtesy of Galina Korneva)
1913 Photo of the Original Monument by Maria Dillon
1913 Photo of the Original Monument
by Maria Dillon
 

On the left is a picture of the grave of Konstantin Krijitski taken 25 years ago, still in the same condition in 2011. Thanks to the meticulous research of the authors they found the picture on the right in the 1913 issue of Argus magazine. The monument was created by the well-known St. Petersburg sculptor Maria Dillon, and long ago in the center of the composition one could see a figure of Krijitski. During Soviet times and until today, visitors to the Smolensky cemetery can only see the ruined grave of the artist.

On December 6, 2011, a plaque honoring Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) was unveiled at 15 Khreshchatyk Street in Kiev, Ukraine. It is at the location of the Kiev Fabergé shop in existence from 1905-1910, and then merged with the Odessa branch of the firm. (Courtesy Paul Gilbert, Royal Russia)

Fabergé Plaque in Kiev
Fabergé Plaque in Kiev
 
On February 3, 2012, a €10 silver Fabergé coin was unveiled honoring the 150th anniversary of Henrik Wigström (1862-1923), the third and last senior workmaster of the Fabergé firm. Dr. Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, a member of the jury selecting the winning design, writes:
 
The face of the coin symbolizes the phase when the craftsman has received the designer’s artistic drawing of the Coronation Egg and starts planning how to create a three-dimensional object out of the design – a complicated process requiring a lot of skill. The Coronation Egg (the 1897 gift to Alexandra Feodorovna from Nicholas II) design was chosen since Wigström has personally signed it with his own name inside the shell. So he has in fact made it, obviously in collaboration with many others. There are Wigström family stories on how he went to the imperial stables to check the color of the velvet-clad benches of the coronation carriage. The reverse of the coin symbolizes the surprise of the 1906 Swan Egg.
Up to 15,000 glossy proof coins and unpolished coins will be minted according to a press release by the Mint of Finland in cooperation of the Ministry of Finance. The collector coin minted in proof quality is available after February 20, 2012.
 
Fabergé Coin (Courtesy Mint of Finland)
Fabergé Coin
(Courtesy Mint of Finland)
Fabergén suomalaiset mestarit
Fabergén suomalaiset mestarit
 
The Lauri Jäntti Foundation annually awards prizes for non-fiction books in the Finnish language. One of the four prizes awarded in 2012 honored the book, The Fabergén suomalaiset mestarit (Finnish Workmasters of Fabergé, published by Tammi, 2011), written by Dr. Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm. According to the jury, the book pays hommage to the gold- and silversmiths who worked for Fabergé, is well researched, and gives a good portrayal of the creativity and skills of these craftsmen. The jury also appreciated the excellent illustrations in the book.
 
TEFAF Maastricht (Courtesy John Jenkins)
TEFAF Maastricht
(Courtesy John Jenkins)
 
The Fabergé dealers, A La Vieille Russie and Wartski, will be exhibiting from March 16-25, 2012, in Maastricht at the 25th Silver Jubilee of The European Fine Art Fair.
 
Museum News
 

March 13, 2012  Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, DC
Caroline de Guitaut, curator of decorative arts at the Royal Collection in England and the author of three books on Fabergé, will present a lecture entitled, Fabergé and the Royal Collection, to honor the legacy of Frederick J. Fisher, Hillwood’s executive director for 20 years (1990-2010). A book signing will follow.

The Shuvalov Palace, situated on the Fontanka River 21, St. Petersburg, is being renovated under the auspices of the Cultural and Historical “The Link of Times” Foundation founded by businessman Viktor Vekselberg. The restoration is to be complete by the end of 2012 and plans are to install a Museum of Fabergé as a permanent exhibition selected from Mr. Vekselberg’s collection. (Courtesy Paul Kulikovsky, Romanov News)

The State Hermitage Museum in 2014 plans to open a Carl Fabergé Museum in the largest of three rooms in the East Wing of the General Staff Building to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage’s collection of Fabergé includes models of the Imperial regalia for which Fabergé was awarded first prize at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 – a rock crystal dish, a silver lamp, a necklace with precious gems. Some items have been restored and are currently on view in the Hermitage’s Treasure Gallery. A large collection of sketches from the House of Fabergé created during a period of 25 years includes drawings by Carl Fabergé’s brother, Agathon Fabergé. An electronic catalog of the museum’s art collection (at present only for internal use) and a new website are being developed in partnership with IBM in time for the celebration.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts plans to take its signature collection of Fabergé jewels on a two-year tour starting after August 1, 2012, while more than doubling the size of the museum gallery where the works are displayed. The museum has committed to keeping sole custody of the jewels during the tour to satisfy the terms of the 65-year-old will that bequeathed to the museum the fabled collection of Lillian Thomas Pratt … It is the largest collection of Fabergé eggs outside Russia itself.

Pratt’s 1947 will states that the items cannot be sold or loaned, but the museum devised a court-approved arrangement in 1995 that allowed part of the collection (52 objects) to be shown concurrently with the Fabergé in America exhibition in 1996. Museum officials said they expect the 150 items in the Fabergé collection to be displayed in four or five cities in North America and Europe. (Source: Michael Martz, Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 5, 2012)

 
Publications
 

Three promotional catalogs (1893, 1899 and 1902) with prices for Moscow Fabergé objects were reissued as facsimiles editions by Tatiana Fabergé and Valentin Skurlov late in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. A partial copy of the 1893 catalog (incorrectly identified in the caption as 1898) was reproduced in the 2000 Wilmington Fabergé exhibition catalog. A reader has discovered an entire archival copy of the 1893 catalog on the internet.

Skurlov, Valentin V., Tatiana Fabergé, Ekaterina Demkina, and Sergey Kvashnin. Михаил Перхин. Ювелир фирмы Фаберже. Кавалеры ордена Михаила Перхина. (Mikhail Perkhin – Jeweler Fabergé), 2011. In Russian.
The first in a new series of books to be entitled, Life of Famous Jewelers, with detailed research by Valentin V. Skurlov includes facts about the life of Mikhail Perkhin (1860-1903), senior workmaster of the Fabergé firm. Under Perkhin’s leadership about 28 of the Imperial eggs were created. The biographical data in the book also contains 222 biographies of world-class jewelers selected from 16 countries who have been awarded the Order of Perkhin – established in modern times. A lengthy blog by Mr. Skurlov details his findings. (Courtesy of Anna and Vincent Palmade)

1893 Fabergé Catalog
1893 Fabergé Catalog
Mikhail Perkhin - Jeweler Fabergé
Mikhail Perkhin – Jeweler Fabergé
 
 
Readers Forum
 

A reader asked for biographical details on Albert Holmström (1876-1925). He was the son of August Holmström, who took over his father’s jewelry workshop after his death in 1903, and maintained the quality of the pieces made. It appears to be unique in the Fabergé genre that the same mark wm-ah was used by two generations of qualified workmasters, and needs to be considered in dating a piece. Examples of their work are the 1892 Diamond Trellis Egg (now McFerrin Collection), and the 1896 Lilies of the Valley Basket (Matilda Geddings Gray Collection and currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum) and under Albert’s leadership, the 1913 Winter Egg (private collection) and 1914 Mosaic Egg (British Royal Collection). Alina, sister of Albert, worked as a designer in the Holmström shop. Further reading: Tillander-Godenhielm’s award winning Fabergén suomalaiset mestarit (2011) and Snowman, A. Kenneth, Lost and Found: The Recently Discovered Jewelry Designs from the St. Petersburg Archives (1993).

Who remembers the tinplated ‘Fabergé’ eggs? They were the rage in museum gift shops and mail order catalogs in 1990’s and became part of the popular culture. Two readers who did remember sent these notes:

Those tins, I love them – not being able to have the real thing! They were sold with chocolates, and with egg-shaped Bronnley soaps – friends sent them to me and we exchanged the various kinds – happy memories! The chocolates are long gone but some of the eggs (see photo below) still contain the soaps!

Immensely popular once again a few years ago – sold with chocolates at airports and gift shops worldwide. I had masses of them, but can only find the Mosaic egg right now!

Tinplated Eggs
Tinplated Eggs
 
Searching for Fabergé
 
October 16, 1973  Sotheby Parke Bernet
Gala Auction for of the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library Featuring Works of Art and Items of Interest and Originality
Attended by 400 specially invited guests at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, the auction included a fluted cigarette case (price realized $2,500) and a silver coffeepot with a hinged cover ($2,750). Of particular interest is the monogram on the cigarette case. A search to verify the monogram and crown confirmed it to be that of Grand Duke George Alexandrovich (1871-1899), younger brother of Nicholas II, who is commemorated on the 1893 Caucasus Egg. He suffered from tuberculosis and died young in a motorcycle accident.
 
Monogram Verification (Courtesy Sotheby Parke Bernet and Wiki)
Monogram Verification (Courtesy Sotheby Parke Bernet and Wiki)
Monogram Verification (Courtesy Sotheby Parke Bernet and Wiki)

Monogram Verification
(Courtesy Sotheby Parke Bernet and Wiki)

 
Has anyone seen this case? What electronic or hardcopy reference tools exist to verify monograms and imperial insignia relating to the Romanovs, and/or the courts of Europe with a particular emphasis on Russia? Contact the Editors.