Newsletter 2013-2014 Winter

Winter 2013-2014
Feature Story: Fabergé in the Court of Siam
Regular Columns: Auctions | Eggs | Exhibitions | General News | Publications | Readers Forum
Third International Fabergé Symposium

The World of Fabergé in St. Petersburg 100 Years Ago

October 2-5, 2014

Fabergé Museum of “The Link of Times” Collection

Restored Shuvalov Palace, 21 Fontanka River Embankment

St. Petersburg, Russia

fab st pete symp logo
Lilies of the Valley Egg
(Courtesy “The Link of Times” Collection)
Fabergé in the Court of Siam
by Christel Ludewig McCanless and Annemiek Wintraecken
The Fabergé Collection of the Court of Siam (Thailand since 1939) is one of two original royal Fabergé collections still treasured by the descendents of the original recipients and modern collectors. Strong personal ties between King Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1853-1910) of Siam and his son, Prince Chakrabongse (1883-1920), and the Romanov rulers, the Tsars Alexander III and his son Nicholas of Russia, were expressed through official diplomatic awards and personal gifts between the two ruling families. An invitation to educate Prince Chakrabongse in St. Petersburg under the tutelage of Tsar Nicholas II and the appointment of the Russian goldsmith Carl Fabergé as Court Jeweler and Enameller to the King of Siam further enhanced these relationships. More…
Auctions
Hardstone Portrait Figures Lost and Found Compiled by Christel L. McCanless

Missing from public view for 79 years the Fabergé hardstone portrait figure of Pustynnikov sold for an amazing hammer price of $5.2 million plus a 15% commission.

Kamer-Kazak N.N. Pustynnikov, Personal Cossack Body Guard of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna from 1894-1917 (Courtesy Stair Galleries)
Kamer-Kazak N.N. Pustynnikov, Personal
Cossack Body Guard of Empress Alexandra
Feodorovna from 1894-1917
(Courtesy Stair Galleries)
Original Design Sketch for the Body Guards of Alexandra Feodorovna (Production No. 12995 January 31, 1912) and for the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (April 25, 1912)
Original Design Sketch for the Body Guards of
Alexandra Feodorovna (Production No. 12995
January 31, 1912) and for the Dowager Empress
Marie Feodorovna (April 25, 1912)
Kamer-Kazak A.A. Kudinov, Personal Cossack Body Guard from 1878-1915 to Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, Property of the State Pavlovsk Museum, Russia (Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, et al., Golden Years of Fabergé, Drawings and Objects from the Wigström Workshop, 2000, 50-51)
Kamer-Kazak A.A. Kudinov, Personal Cossack
Body Guard from 1878-1915 to Dowager
Empress Marie Feodorovna, Property of the
State Pavlovsk Museum, Russia
(Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, et al., Golden
Years of Fabergé, Drawings and Objects from
the Wigström Workshop
, 2000, 50-51)
Provenance of Pustynnikov:

  • 1912 Sold to Tsar Nicholas II
  • 1934 Hammer Galleries sold for $2250 to Mrs. George H. Davis of Manhattan and Rhinebeck, NY (Hammer invoice incorrectly identifies the figure as the body guard of Marie Feodorovna)
  • Thence by descent
  • 2013 Sold to London jeweler Wartski for close to $6 million

Some hardstone figures still missing based on archival records – the search continues:

Emperor Nicholas II, 1868-1918
Emperor Nicholas II, 1868-1918
(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Invoice for Priest
Invoice for Priest

Invoice for Palace Guard
Invoice for Palace Guard

(Skurlov, Valentin, Fabergé, Tatiana, and Viktor Ilyukhin, K. Fabergé, and His Followers: Hardstone Figures, 2009, 82-3)

Purchased by Nicholas II on April 2, 1908, for 525 rubles a priest in a fur coat and hat, and a palace guard on December 8, 1908, for 925 rubles for which the invoices are extant. François Birbaum, designer of the Fabergé firm from 1893 to 1917, in his recollections mentions two of the best human figures including “the humorous figure of a priest in a fur coat and cap” (Fabergé, Tatiana, and Valentin V. Skurlov, The History of the House of Fabergé … Birbaum Memoirs, 1992, 44)

“Uncle Sam” was purchased by Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt II on September 10, 1909, for £60 (cost of 385 rubles).

‘Birdie’ Vanderbilt Painting by Giovanni Boldini
‘Birdie’ Vanderbilt Painting
by Giovanni Boldini
(Courtesy Wikipedia)

“Uncle Sam” London Sales Ledger Entry (Courtesy Tatiana Fabergé Archives)
“Uncle Sam” London Sales Ledger Entry
(Courtesy Tatiana Fabergé Archives)

Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt was born Virginia Graham Fair (1875-1935) in San Francisco, the daughter of millionaire James Graham Fair (1831-94), one of the original discoverers of the Comstock Lode, a major U.S. deposit of silver ore. ‘Birdie’ married William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944) in New York in 1899. His sister Consuelo had married the Duke of Marlborough in 1895. The Vanderbilts separated in 1909 and were divorced in 1927. A noted hostess, Virginia Vanderbilt maintained a Gothic-style residence on Fifth Avenue and owned an important racing stable. She purchased a hard stone figure, Uncle Sam in 1909. (Habsburg, Géza von, et al. Fabergé in America (1996), Appendix II: Acquisitions by Americans at Fabergé’s London Shop, 1907-1917, 353)
Eggs
The 1914 Mosaic Egg Surprise by Annemiek Wintraecken

Close to a hundred photographs of the last Russian Imperial family, many taken by the Nicholas II himself or his children, were found in a remote Urals museum. Among them is a series of photographs (left) of the four Grand Duchesses, daughters of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Four Grand Duchesses of Nicholas II and Alexandra (Courtesy Siberian Times)
The Four Grand Duchesses of
Nicholas II and Alexandra
(Courtesy Siberian Times)
Photograph Collage (Courtesy of the Author)
Photograph Collage
(Courtesy of the Author)
1914 Imperial Mosaic Egg and Cameo Surprise (Courtesy the Royal Collection)
1914 Imperial Mosaic Egg and Cameo Surprise (Courtesy the Royal Collection)

1914 Imperial Mosaic Egg and Cameo Surprise
(Courtesy the Royal Collection)

Comparing the collage with the cameo of the Imperial children (with the heir Alexis missing) it is clear the girls look exactly as they do in the photographs and were used by the Fabergé firm for the surprise of the 1914 Imperial Mosaic Egg now in the Royal Collection.

It also appears the idea for the surprise of the Mosaic Egg has an illustrious predecessor. Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Paul I, was a gifted artist in her own right. Her talents included the ability to carve cameos, turn ivory and amber, draw, paint and engrave medals and buttons, some of which she presented to her mother-in-law Catherine II (Catherine the Great).

Drawing by Empress Maria Feodorovna, Wife of Paul I (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Drawing by Empress Maria Feodorovna,
Wife of Paul I (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Cigarette Box, Reversed (Courtesy Walters Art Museum)
Cigarette Box, Reversed
(Courtesy Walters Art Museum)
The drawing depicts six of the ten children of Paul I (1754-1801) and his second wife, Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828), born Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. The cigarette box now in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (Maryland) was sold to the founder of the museum, Henry Walters, by émigré art dealer Alexandre Polovtsov in Paris during 1928-29. Around the same time Walters acquired Fabergé’s Imperial 1901 Gatchina Palace and the 1907 Rose Trellis Eggs. How the two Imperial Eggs passed from the Imperial family to Polovtsov remains a mystery to this day. Walter’s story is told in William and Henry Walters: The Reticent Collectors by William R. Johnston (1999).

Fabergé Eggs in Calendars, Puzzles and More

Spring Flowers Egg (1899-1903): *Pop-up Book (1994), Wall Calendar (2004) (Courtesy The Forbes Magazine Collection)
Spring Flowers Egg (1899-1903): *Pop-up Book (1994), Wall Calendar (2004) (Courtesy The Forbes Magazine Collection)

Spring Flowers Egg (1899-1903): *Pop-up Book (1994), Wall Calendar (2004)
(Courtesy The Forbes Magazine Collection)

Between 1985 and 2004 The Forbes Magazine Collection, before its collection was acquired by Viktor Vekselberg and became the Link of Times Collection, published a series of wall calendars and other best sellers sold in museum stores.

1985 – The inaugural calendar contained eggs and other items from The Forbes Magazine Collection. (New York: Henry A. Abrams)

1989 – Twelve Easter eggs from The Forbes Collection and the Armory Museum were shown in a calendar published in conjunction with the San Diego Exhibition first on view in California and then in 1990 shown in Moscow. Text is in English and Russian. A similar calendar was published for 1991. (San Diego, CA: Museum of Art)

1990 – **A five-year record book with dates, but without days of the week to keep track of important dates in your life, included Fabergé objects from The Forbes Magazine Collection, the Royal Collection, and the photographic archives of Sotheby’s auction house. (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates; distributed by the Macmillan Publishing Company)

1990 – **Jigsaw puzzle with 600 interlocking pieces has 12 different photographs of Easter eggs from The Forbes Magazine Collection (Nordevco Puzzles)

1992 – Wall calendar with eggs from The Forbes Magazine Collection (FMC) with an introduction, “The House of Fabergé” by Christopher Forbes. Similar edition for the year 1998 is entitled Imperial Egg CollectionTM … (FMC with te Neues Publishing Company)

1994 – *Imperial Surprises: A Pop-up Book of Fabergé Masterpieces featured eight Forbes Fabergé objects as pop-ups. A variety of other objects illustrate the text by Margaret Kelly (Trombly), Director of The Forbes Magazine Collection. (Fabergé Arts Foundation and Harry N. Abrams)

1996 – Fabergé Eggs: A Book of Ornaments contains five eggs with gold cords to be hung as Easter or Christmas ornaments and returned to the book. (New York: Henry A. Abrams)

1996 – Fabergé: Prunkeier/Decorated Eggs is a tear-out postcard book featuring The Forbes Collection taken from the 1989 Prestel Verlag publication, Fabergé, The Imperial Eggs.

1998 – **Fabergé Treasures – The Forbes CollectionTM: Jigsaw Puzzle Book with text by Robyn Tromeur has four two-sided puzzles stored safely in the foldout book. (New York: Henry A. Abrams)

1998 – The Imperial Egg CollectionTM: Selection of Fabergé Objects d’Art, The Forbes Magazine Collection wall calendar (New York: The Forbes Magazine Collection and Art + Image, Germany)

1999 – The Imperial Egg CollectionTM by Peter Carl Fabergé: The Forbes Collection™ wall calendar (New York: Henry A. Abrams)

Jigsaw Puzzle with 600 pieces (1990) and in the lower right, Five-Year Book of Days (1990), Jigsaw Puzzle Book (1998) (Courtesy Camelier & Buckley Catalog; The Forbes Magazine Collection)
Jigsaw Puzzle with 600 pieces (1990) and in the lower right, Five-Year Book of Days (1990), Jigsaw Puzzle Book (1998) (Courtesy Camelier & Buckley Catalog; The Forbes Magazine Collection)

**Jigsaw Puzzle with 600 pieces (1990) and in the lower right, Five-Year Book of Days (1990), Jigsaw Puzzle Book (1998)
(Courtesy Camelier & Buckley Catalog; The Forbes Magazine Collection)

2000 – Treasures by Peter Carl Fabergé: The Forbes CollectionTM calendar featured three eggs and other outstanding objects. (New York: Henry A. Abrams)

2000 – Four Fabergé Kodak puzzles featuring pieces from The Forbes Magazine Collection were produced and sold in the museum shop at the Riverfront Arts Center in Wilmington, Delaware. (If you have an extra copy, please contact us.)

2004 – *Peter Carl Fabergé Treasures from the Forbes CollectionTM wall calendar was published before the sale of The Forbes Magazine Collection to the Link of Times Collection. (Barnes & Noble Calendars)

Exhibitions
(Updates are posted in Exhibitions on the Fabergé Research Site)
Links to digital Fabergé images have been added to the permanent exhibitions, on the Fabergé Research Site.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fabergé Gallery is closed while the collection is on tour. During this time, the gallery will be doubled in size, renovated, and relit to allow visitors to experience the full range of the craftsmanship of Fabergé eggs, jewels, and other objects in the Pratt Collection.

Temporary exhibitions are uploaded to the Fabergé Research Site as soon as they are received:

February 18 – May 18, 2014 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Fabergé: The Tsar’s Jeweler
The exhibition features 150 items from the Kremlin Museum in Moscow on display in Austria for the first time. A catalog will be published.

November 16, 2013 – March 23, 2014 The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost
Exhibition dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty includes Fabergé objects.

Any oversights, advise the editors.

General News
Fabergé dealers A La Vieille Russie (ALVR) and Wartski are exhibiting at the Winter Antiques Show in the Park Avenue Armory, New York City from January 24 – February 2, 2014. It is the first participation for the London firm of Wartski. ALVR published its 2013 Winter Catalog in both digital and hard copies.
Publications
New Publications
New Publications
New Publications
New Publications

New Publications

News from Liki Rossii (Images of Russia), a St. Petersburg publishing company:

  • Korneva, Galina, and Tatiana Cheboksarova, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, 2014. In Russian. An English edition is in preparation.
  • Tillander-Godenhielm, Ulla, Jewels from Imperial St. Petersburg, 2012, a soft-cover edition is coming out in March 2014. A Russian translation with the title, Драгоценности Императорского Петербурга, was published in 2013.

Fabergé Objects in the Collection of Pavlovsk was unveiled on December 19, 2013. Volume 9 in the Pavlovsk Museum series features 34 Fabergé objects of which 30 have an Imperial provenance.

Mongkhonlatham, Ratthakō̜n (Ralph), Changtho̜ng Luang Haeng Phramahakasat (The Kings’ Royal Goldsmiths), 2554 [2011]. Separate Thai and English editions trace the royal gems since the reign of King Rama V in a series of illustrated articles. Reviewed in the Phuket Gazette, April 23-29, 2011, p. 23. The editors are interested in an English edition.

Selling Russia’s Treasures edited by Natalya Semyonova and Nicolas V. Iljine is an enlarged edition of the book published in 2001 with the same title.

Readers Forum
Danish Royal 50th Wedding Anniversary Kovsh
Carol Warner at the 1993 Hermitage Museum Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler Exhibition (Photograph Courtesy of Carol Warner)
Carol Warner at the 1993 Hermitage Museum Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler Exhibition
(Photograph Courtesy of Carol Warner)
Design Sketch of the Danish Anniversary Kovsh/Wine Cooler (Christie’s London, April 27, 1989, Lot 404)
Design Sketch of the Danish Anniversary Kovsh/Wine Cooler
(Christie’s London, April 27, 1989, Lot 404)
One of our regular readers and former docent at Hillwood Museum, Carol Warner sent a picture showing the size of the wine cooler illustrated in the Fabergé Research Newsletter, Fall 2013.

She writes:

“I suspect most Fabergé readers do not get an idea of the scale of pieces from the books and catalogs we read … on the Danish wine cooler I always thought it was the size of a large gravy boat. I was bowled over when I realized it is almost bath-tub size … quickly someone took my picture, and I am happy to share it with your newsletter readers.”