Newsletter 2013 Fall

Fall 2013
 
Feature Story: Fabergé’s Imperial Eggs – Their Inspirations and Prototypes
 
Regular Columns: Auctions | Exhibitions | Publications
 
Fabergé Symposium in St. Petersburg, Russia: A Survey
 

A multi-national committee of Fabergé enthusiasts is discussing a 2014 symposium event in the heart of St. Petersburg.

Four Fabergé museum collections exist in St. Petersburg and nearby …

  • Hermitage Museum, the world’s largest museum with the addition of the General Staff Building, is being renovated at present
  • “The Link of Times” Collection is opening in the restored Shuvalov Palace
  • Fabergé objects at Pavlovsk Palace
  • Fabergé exhibition at Peterhof Palaces

Readers interested in attending (dates as yet unknown) are asked to share an email address to receive further details as they become available. Your suggestions are welcomed!

 
Fabergé’s Imperial Eggs – Their Inspirations and Prototypes
 
Newsletter readers from far and wide contributed their ideas for our feature story showcasing seven of Maria Feodorovna’s Fabergé eggs and three eggs presented to Alexandra Feodorovna between 1885-1917, a period of 32 years. Dr. Géza von Habsburg published his findings on derivatives in “Fabergé and the Easter Egg” (Fabergé, 1987, 92-99). Twenty-seven years later he shares these thoughts:
 

I have always enjoyed my friend A. Kenneth Snowman’s comparison of Fabergé to a “cultural sponge”. This epithet is such a fitting description of the young artist, whom we visualize first as a teen-ager, overwhelmed by the multitude of exceptional works of art in the Green Vaults in Dresden, then with sketch-book in hand on his extensive travels throughout Europe and finally, dismantling, restoring and appraising objects of art in the Hermitage jewelry gallery, which was described by a well-informed contemporary as the (my italics) school for Fabergé’s craftsmen. The treasures encountered were absorbed and committed to memory by the budding artist who put them to good use throughout his life. As shown in this Newsletter, there are many examples of ingenious adaptions, interpretations and modifications of earlier objects in Fabergé’s oeuvre. Therein, he was a child of Historismus, a time in the second half of the 19th century which revived all former French idioms from Louis XIV to the Empire. Despite such borrowings, Fabergé is justly famed for having created a style uniquely true to himself, never copying nor plagiarizing – for that he was far too sophisticated an artist.

While producing over 200,000 individual works of art, pride of place evidently goes to the unique series of 50 Easter eggs, which, after tentative beginnings, culminate in such incredible inventions as the 1914 Grisaille Egg. The gift prompted the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna in a letter to her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, to name Fabergé the “greatest jeweler of our time”. Two other unique Fabergé creations are the brilliantly crafted 1914 Mosaic Egg and the magical 1913 Winter Egg, the latter in my opinion Fabergé’s absolute masterpiece.

1885 First Hen Egg and Its Prototypes by Dr. Géza von Habsburg
 
1885 First Hen Egg (Courtesy "The Link of Times" Collection)
1885 First Hen Egg
(Courtesy “The Link of Times” Collection)
Saxon Royal Egg, Collection of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733) (Courtesy Géza von Habsburg)
Saxon Royal Egg, Collection of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733) (Courtesy Géza von Habsburg)

Saxon Royal Egg, Collection of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733)
(Courtesy Géza von Habsburg)

 

An 18th century Easter egg, property of a member of the Saxon Royal family, sold at auction (Habsburg Feldman, Geneva, November 16, 1988, lot 255). It formed part of the numerous works of art ceded by the Saxon state to King Frederick Augustus III (1865-1932), who abdicated in 1918. An agreement in 1924 reached with the former king compensated him for the loss of the many tens of thousands of masterpieces formerly owned by the family. The restituted treasures were stored at the moated and fortified Moritzburg Castle outside of Dresden, one of King Augustus the Strong’s hunting properties. Numerous artworks, including this egg, were salvaged by the family when the Soviet forces marched into Saxony in 1945.

With help of Dresden scholars the egg (Inv. Nr. VI.XIII) was discovered in the 1921 Dresden Green Vaults Museum (Grünes Gewölbe) catalog and described as: The Golden Egg from the property of Augustus the Strong. After unscrewing the cover, the golden yolk can be removed, underneath sits a broody hen with ruby eyes. This hen can be opened and contains a diamond-set royal crown set beneath with a carnelian matrix engraved with a ship in a stormy sea inscribed “Constant malgré l’orage”. The crown can be opened and two of its ribs hold a ring with diamonds surrounding a table-cut diamond.

A very similar egg (below) is preserved in the Danish Royal Collections in the Amalienborg Museum, Copenhagen; which has hitherto been considered as the prototype for Fabergé’s 1885 Hen Egg. Another, also very similar, formerly owned by the Habsburg Imperial Family, is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

 
Golden Egg and Chicken (Courtesy The Danish Royal Collections, The Amalienborg Museum)
Golden Egg and Chicken
(Courtesy The Danish Royal Collections, The Amalienborg Museum)
18th Century Easter Egg, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (von Habsburg, Fabergé, 1987, 315-6)
18th Century Easter Egg, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
(von Habsburg, Fabergé, 1987, 315-6)
 

In view of the increasingly numerous examples connecting Fabergé’s art to Dresden, should scholars not consider it a more likely possibility that the 1885 First Hen Egg was directly inspired by the Saxon Royal example on view at the Green Vaults during Fabergé’s time and certainly known to him, rather the egg in the Danish Royal collection, which he never saw?

 

1894 Renaissance Egg – 18th Century Casket by LeRoy by Dr. Géza von Habsburg

Numerous links tie Carl Fabergé to the Green Vaults Museum in Dresden, Germany. Fabergé’s parents resided in Dresden from 1860 until their death in 1894 and 1903, respectively. Fabergé spent formative years in the Saxon capital, and his brother Agathon was born there in 1862. Young and impressionable Fabergé was evidently overwhelmed by the riches of the royal museum and in particular, its hardstone and enameled gold objects. In 1953, A. Kenneth Snowman of Wartski made the first connection between the 1894 Renaissance Egg with an 18th century casket by LeRoy in the Green Vaults. Tell-tale photographs of the two eggs side by side, both open and shut were taken by the author at the occasion of the 1986 Munich exhibition. They seem to demonstrate that Fabergé is likely to have held the casket in his hands.

 
Fabergé 1894 Renaissance Egg, "The Link of Times" Collection
18th Century Casket by LeRoy

LEFT EGG: 18th Century Casket by LeRoy | RIGHT EGG:Fabergé 1894 Renaissance Egg, “The Link of Times” Collection
(LEFT PICTURE: Photograph © Géza von Habsburg | RIGHT PICTURE: Courtesy Green Vaults)

 

Additional links connect Carl Fabergé to the works of the great Dresden goldsmith Johann Melchior Dinglinger (1664-1731), so clearly the Russian master’s spiritual forefather. His works are present not only in Dresden Green Vaults, but also in the treasury of the State Hermitage Museum, easily accessible to Fabergé as of the 1860s.

 

1895 Blue Serpent Egg Clock – Predecessors Galore! by Annemiek Wintraecken

 
1895 Fabergé Blue Serpent Egg Clock (Courtesy Prince Albert III of Monaco Collection)
1895 Fabergé Blue Serpent Egg Clock
(Courtesy Prince Albert III of
Monaco Collection)
Late 19th Century French Porcelain-mounted Ormolu Cercle Tournant Clock (Courtesy Bonhams)
Late 19th Century French Porcelain-mounted
Ormolu Cercle Tournant Clock
(Courtesy Bonhams)
Louis XV/Louis XVI Ormolu Marble Urn Clock, Ca. 1770 (Courtesy Christie's)
Louis XV/Louis XVI Ormolu
Marble Urn Clock, Ca. 1770
(Courtesy Christie’s)
 

The 1895 Egg Clock has some remarkable predecessors. See for yourself, which one you would chose as a possible prototype.

 

1903 Peter the Great Egg

Dr. Géza von Habsburg identified an 18th century Nécessaire Egg in the State Hermitage Collection as the predecessor of the 1903 Peter the Great Egg.

 
1903 Peter the Great Egg (Courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
1903 Peter the Great Egg
(Courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
18th Century Nécessaire Egg with Clock and Travel Kit (Courtesy State Hermitage Collection)
18th Century Nécessaire Egg with Clock and Travel Kit
(Courtesy State Hermitage Collection)
 

1906 Swan Egg

Video about the restoration and conservation by the Bowes Museum (Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, England) of the silver swan in the 1906 Swan Egg (Fabergé Research Newsletter, Fall 2012, Courtesy of Juan F. Déniz)

 
1906 Swan Egg (Courtesy Sandoz Foundation Collection)
1906 Swan Egg
(Courtesy Sandoz Foundation Collection)
1773 Silver Swan by James Cox (Courtesy Bowes Museum)
1773 Silver Swan by James Cox
(Courtesy Bowes Museum)
 

1908 Peacock Egg

The essay, Fabergé and Roullet et Decamps Walking Peacocks: More Than Just a Coincidence? by Juan F. Déniz, in the Fabergé Research Newsletter, Fall 2012, discusses peacock predecessors.

 
1908 Peacock Egg (Courtesy Sandoz Foundation Collection)
1908 Peacock Egg
(Courtesy Sandoz Foundation Collection)
1780 Peacock Clock by James Cox (Courtesy State Hermitage Collection)
1780 Peacock Clock by James Cox
(Courtesy State Hermitage Collection)
 

(Courtesy State Hermitage Collection | Hosted by YouTube)
 
1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg – Design Similarities by Juan F. Déniz
 
1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg Kremlin Collection (Courtesy Wiki)
1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg
Kremlin Collection
(Courtesy Wiki)
Reliquary of St. Ranieri (Courtesy Museum of Silver in Florence, Italy)
Reliquary of St. Ranieri
(Courtesy Museum of Silver
in Florence, Italy)
 
The rock-crystal Equestrian Egg, shaped halfway between spherical and ovoid, instead of the conventional egg-like appearance, reminds the viewer of a crystal urn, or a reliquary in the Museo degli Argenti (Museum of Silver in Florence, Italy). The distinctive elements in design are very striking.
 
Detail of the 1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg (Courtesy Kremlin Collection)
Detail of the 1910 Alexander III Equestrian Egg
(Courtesy Kremlin Collection)
 
Detail of the Reliquary (Courtesy Museum of Silver in Florence, Italy)
Detail of the Reliquary
(Courtesy Museum of Silver in Florence, Italy)
 
1910 Colonnade Egg – A Possible Source is Proposed by Geoffrey Munn in the Fabergé Research Newsletter, Summer 2013
 
1910 Colonnade Egg by Fabergé (Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2013)
1910 Colonnade Egg by Fabergé (Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2013)

1910 Colonnade Egg by Fabergé
(Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2013)

 
1911 Bay Tree Egg – Its Antecedents by DeeAnn Hoff
 
1911 Bay Tree Egg (Courtesy "The Link of Times" Collection)
1911 Bay Tree Egg
(Courtesy “The Link of Times” Collection)
Topiaries in the Versailles Gardens (Courtesy Gardenista)
Topiaries in the Versailles Gardens
(Courtesy Gardenista)
Richard of Paris Automaton (Sotheby Parke Bernet, Mentmore Auction, 1977)
Richard of Paris Automaton
(Sotheby Parke Bernet,
Mentmore Auction, 1977)
 

This mechanical topiary egg is one of eight known automata Fabergé produced between 1892 and 1911. It is not so much an innovation as a ‘culmination’ of a 200-year progression of historical antecedents. Identified in 1935 as a ‘Bay Tree’, it was in 1947 incorrectly labeled as an ‘Orange Tree’, and in 1997 correctly identified as a ‘bay tree’ based on its original Fabergé invoice.1 The ‘Orange Tree’ label may relate more to the design than to the botanical variety of the tree itself. Such topiary orange trees with their distinctive planters were specifically developed for the gardens at Versailles outside of Paris. The planters themselves were invented in the 17th century by André Le Nôtré, gardener of Louis XIV, whose work still represents the height of the French formal garden style, or jardin à la française. While exotic fruits were fashionable at the royal table in Versailles, and as these fragile citrus and palm trees were sensitive to the harsh winters, an orangery was built to accommodate them. Le Nôtré conceived the idea of the planter so that the trees could remain permanently potted yet were portable throughout the year. He designed the planters with removable sides allowing easy trimming of the root systems.

These tubs as they are often labeled in descriptions of the objects d’art they inspired, also facilitated the king’s use of these orange trees to decorate the Hall of Mirrors on special occasions. His design endures in both art and present day gardens and remains in production today in Versailles by the firm Orange Tree Planters, Paris. On the final weekend of September 2013, I watched gardeners in both the Catherine Park at Tsarskoye Selo and the Peterhof Gardens loading these Versailles planters (with their topiary trees) onto trailers to be taken inside for the winter months.

Ornamental trees with fruit were not the only common factor French noble tastes shared with the 1911 Imperial Egg and its mechanical singing bird. One did not have to be royalty to keep canaries in France in the 18th century – they were luxury items. They had to be imported from the Canary Islands, as their name suggests. The species had the ability to learn a variety of songs.

In 1746, several automaton flute players and mechanical birds were exhibited at the Tuileries. It was not long before various master craftsmen, applied their ingenuity, noting that Black Forest craftsmen had been building cuckoo clocks since the 1730s. These atelier establishments constructed hundreds of singing birds, popping up out of clocks, snuffboxes, and decanters. “The actual singing mechanism of these artificial singing birds was located elsewhere in the piece, usually it was hidden within a compartment in the snuffbox or decanter or clock separate.”2

Among a growing cadre of Court ‘Mechanicians’, Robert Richard appeared in Paris around 1770 with an ensemble of automaton musicians. In 1757, a delicate and finely crafted musical automaton appears, attributed to none other than Richard of Paris. Billed as the greatest auction since the French revolutionaries sold off Versailles3, the Mentmore auction4 as Lot 49 offered: “An Extremely Rare Louis XV Singing Bird and Orange Tree Musical Automaton by Richard of Paris. The movement is signed Richard Rue des provaires á Paris and dated 1757”. The metal tree was enameled in natural colors with green leaves and gold oranges enlivened by white Vincennes porcelain orange blossoms. The two birds, probably re-feathered later, perched amid the branches, while the movement and a small pipe organ were contained in a square kingwood and tulipwood parquetry tub with trellis work panels on each side. As the gavel fell, it was a London dealer who paid $153,000 for the 200-year old enamel orange tree automaton with singing birds.5

A little over a half century later, the concept of the animated Orange Tree was addressed by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the son of a French clockmaker, born in 1805 in Blois, France. Elaborate mechanical toys operated by clockworks, so called ‘automata’ were very popular in France when he presented his works at the Exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants held in Paris in the summer of 1844.

 
Robert-Houdin and His Orange Tree Trick (Sources: Harry Houdini6 and Edwards7)
Robert-Houdin and His Orange Tree Trick (Sources: Harry Houdini6 and Edwards7)

Robert-Houdin and His Orange Tree Trick
(Sources: Harry Houdini6 and Edwards7)

 

To avoid prosecution for witchcraft, Robert-Houdin, famous for making orange trees grow before an audience’s eyes and suspending bodies in air, was forced to reveal his tricks to authorities. He offered a detailed description of ‘The Orange Tree’ “… on which flowers and fruit burst into life at the request of the ladies.”6 Robert-Houdin continued: “This mechanical mechanism, collapsed so that it takes up little room, is enclosed in a small flat box. Then ‘under cover of a cloth a confederate blows air through a glass tube which causes the tree to ‘grow’.”7

The more familiar magician Harry Houdini (1874-1926) adopted his stage name in honor of his predecessor, and actually paid a visit to Moscow and the infamous Butyraskaya Prison in 1908, performing a dramatic escape for the prisoners. Built during the reign of Catherine the Great, the prison housed former nobles, enemies of the revolution and future rebels including Alexander Solzhenitsyn.8

At the end of the 19th century the advent of the Art Nouveau style in Europe proved fertile ground for the ‘Orange Tree’ motif. A monumental version is The Secession Building, designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich and built in Vienna 1898. It was on a visit to Vienna over a decade ago when I began to consider it as a possible stylistic inspiration for the 1911 Bay Tree Egg along with its even stranger bedfellow, the illusional automatons developed in France by Robert-Houdin. I appreciate the earlier commentary on this comparative by Géza von Habsburg, as well as a photo of the Richard of Paris Orange Tree published by Hermione Waterfield and Christopher Forbes.9 The building was to become a key work of Viennese Art Nouveau. Its laurel (or bay) leaf dome hovers over the building in the form of 3000 gilt leaves and 700 berries. The foliated dome was nicknamed the ‘golden cabbage’ by contemporaries.”

 
Secession Building in Vienna
Secession Building in Vienna

Secession Building in Vienna
(Left Image and Larger Views are Courtesy of Several Secession Building Websites | Right Image is Courtesy of Géza von Habsburg)

 
Throughout the reign of Alexander III and his son Nicholas II, Fabergé became personally familiar with the tastes of his noble and imperial clientele. A ‘topiary tree’ piece is seen placed on top of a glass vitrine in the den of the Villa Hvidøre near Copenhagen, the residence was purchased by sisters, Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna and her sister Queen Alexandra of England, as a retreat into which they settled for a visit in 1907.10
 
Den in the Villa Hvidøre (Korneva and Cheboksarova10)
Den in the Villa Hvidøre
(Korneva and Cheboksarova10)
 

Consider the following description of the 1911 Bay Tree Egg as a comparison with its closest antecedent, the Richard of Paris Automaton: “The topiary tree formed as a profusion of carved nephrite, finely veined leaves and jeweled fruit and flowers on an intricate framework of branches, the fruit formed by champagne diamonds, amethysts, pale rubies and citrines, the flowers enameled white and set with diamonds, a keyhole and a tiny lever, hidden among the leaves, when activated open the hinged circular top of the tree and a feathered songbird rises, flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings, the gold trunk chased to imitate bark and planted in gold soil is contained in a white quartz tub applied with a gold trellis chased with flower heads at the intersections and further applied with swags of berried laurel enameled translucent green and pinned by cabochon rubies, the central rubies edged by diamonds, … “inscribed Fabergé in Cyrillic with the date 1911 on lower front rail of the tub.”11

Collectively speaking, the inspiration of these historical antecedents cannot be understated. Fabergé’s Bay Tree, clearly has deep artistic as well as cultural roots. Certainly, the influence of the Louis XV Singing Bird and Orange Tree Musical Automaton and more broadly Robert-Houdin’s Orange Tree Trick is well-defined:

  • The use of the distinctive design of the topiary orange trees. Both objects incorporate as their tub, the historical Versailles Orange Tree planter (still in situ, and produced by a firm in Paris today), and a common base with elements including the delicate trellis design on the sides of the planter.
  • The camouflage technique in placing the key/hole amid the finely carved nephrite/green enameled leaves.
  • The white Vincennes porcelain orange blossoms of the Parisian automaton and its beneficiary’s ‘flowers enameled white and set with diamonds’.
  • The ‘feathered’ song birds emerging from the tree top, with the mechanism concealed in the base, elements shared as well with Robert-Houdin’s more primitive Orange Tree Trick.

Antecedents of the 1911 Bay Tree Egg reflect both function (the automata) as well as stylistic design. To close this examination, I propose two design examples: a jetton struck at the end of the 17th century, and a Fabergé brooch possibly predating the 1911 Tree.

 
Louis XIV Brass Jetton with Orange Tree 17th Century Propaganda Piece (Author’s Collection)
Louis XIV Brass Jetton with Orange Tree
17th Century Propaganda Piece
(Author’s Collection)
Fabergé Brooch with Flowering Tree Growing in Tub (Snowman, Fabergé: Lost and Found, 1993, 52-3)
Fabergé Brooch with Flowering Tree Growing in Tub
(Snowman, Fabergé: Lost and Found, 1993, 52-3)
 
1Fabergé, Tatiana, et al. The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, 1997, 248.
2Metzner, Paul. Crescendo of the Virtuoso: Spectacle, Skill, and Self-Promotion in Paris During the Age of Revolution, 1998, 174.
3Eugene Register Guard, May 18, 1977.
4Sotheby Parke Bernet, Mentmore, Volume 1: Furniture, May 18-20, 1977, p. xiii & 44-45. Special thanks to Lois White, Getty Museum Library.
5Daytona Beach Morning Journal, May 19, 1977.
6Houdini, Harry. The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, 1908, 51.
7Edwards, I.G. The Magic Man, 1908, 159.
8Smith, Douglas. Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy, 2012, 248.
9von Habsburg, Géza. Fabergé Imperial Craftsman & His World, 2000, 222; Waterfield, Hermione & Forbes, Christopher. Fabergé: Imperial Eggs and Other Fantasies, 1978, 138.
10Korneva, Galina and Cheboksarova, Tatiana. Russia and Europe, 2012, 269.
11von Habsburg, Géza. Fabergé Treasures of Imperial Russia, 2005, 216.
 
1917 Blue Constellation Egg – Possible Prototypes for an Unfinished Egg
 
1917 Design Sketch, Blue Constellation Egg (Courtesy Tatiana Fabergé)
1917 Design Sketch, Blue Constellation Egg
(Courtesy Tatiana Fabergé)
1917 Blue Constellation Egg (Courtesy Fersman Mineralogical Museum, Moscow)
1917 Blue Constellation Egg
(Courtesy Fersman Mineralogical Museum, Moscow)
 
In 2003, the signature article by Tatiana N. Muntian and Marianna B. Chistyakova, “A Symbol of a Disappearing Empire: The Rediscovery of the Fabergé Constellation Easter Egg”, unveiled the discovery of an unfinished egg in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum, Moscow. (Apollo, January 2003, 10-13)
 
Singer Building Cupola, St. Petersburg, Russia (Courtesy Valentin Skurlov)
Singer Building Cupola, St. Petersburg, Russia
(Courtesy Valentin Skurlov)
Clock by Etienne Martincourt (Courtesy Wallace Collection, London)
Clock by Etienne Martincourt
(Courtesy Wallace Collection, London)
 

In 2004, Dr. Valentin Skurlov offers the cupola of the Singer Building on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, Russia, as an inspiration for the egg. (Антикварное Обозрение (Antique Review), n° 3, 2004, 36)

In 2008, Kieran McCarthy suggested a clock from the Wallace Collection in London as a prototype. (Fabergé Research Newsletter, January 2008)

In 2013, the unfinished Blue Constellation Egg is sometimes displayed with a gold band (illustrated above) or a Lucite band between the constellation halves to support its delicate nature. The egg with the Lucite band is shown next to a “finished” egg from the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany. (Royal Russia, February 8, 2013)

 
Auctions
 
October 26-27, 2013  Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York
Russian Imperial Treasure
 
Kamer-Kazak Kudinov (1878-1915) Pavlovsk State Museum Collection (Skurlov, Fabergé, T. and Ilyukhin, Fabergé and His Followers, Hardstone Figures, 2009, 62)
Kamer-Kazak Kudinov (1878-1915)
Pavlovsk State Museum Collection
(Skurlov, Fabergé, T. and Ilyukhin, Fabergé
and His Followers, Hardstone Figures
, 2009, 62)
Kamer-Kazak Pustynnikov (1857-1918) (Photographs by Walter Hill and Courtesy Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York)
Kamer-Kazak Pustynnikov (1857-1918)
(Photographs by Walter Hill and
Courtesy Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York)
Marks on Kamer-Kazak Pustynnikov's Boots Used in Authentication (Photographs by Walter Hill and Courtesy Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York)
Marks on Kamer-Kazak Pustynnikov’s Boots Used in Authentication
(Photographs by Walter Hill and
Courtesy Stair Galleries, Hudson, New York)
 

A Fabergé genre rarely seen on the auction market has re-emerged after an absence of almost 80 years. The Fabergé portrait figure (center) of Nikolai Nikolaeievich Pustynnikov (1857-1918), who served as the personal body guard to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna from 1894-1917, has been discovered in a Rhinebeck, New York attic. Bought by Mrs. George H. Davis from the Hammer Galleries on December 11, 1934, the 7” statute has never been seen before in public, and is one of circa 50 such Fabergé objects – as rare as Fabergé Imperial Eggs.

The companion piece (left), also commissioned by Emperor Nicholas II in 1912, is a figure of Alexei Alexeievich Kudinov (1878-1915), Kamer-Kazak of the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna in the Pavlovsk Palace State Museum near St. Petersburg, Russia.

October 29, 2013  Sotheby’s New York
Important Silver, Vertu, and Russian Works of Art

 
Photograph Frame by Andrei Gurianov, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917 (Courtesy Sotheby’s New York)
 

Photograph Frame by Andrei Gurianov, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917 (Courtesy Sotheby’s New York)

Photograph Frame by Andrei Gurianov, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917
(Courtesy Sotheby’s New York)

 
November 25, 2013  Christie’s London
Important Russian Art
 
Elephants from the Estate of H.R.H. The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (Courtesy Christie’s London)
Elephants from the Estate of H.R.H. The Prince Henry,
Duke of Gloucester
(Courtesy Christie’s London)
Fan with Fabergé Guard, Mikhail Perkhin, 1899-1904 (Courtesy Christie’s London)
Fan with Fabergé Guard, Mikhail Perkhin, 1899-1904
(Courtesy Christie’s London)
 
November 27, 2013  Bonhams London
Russian Auction
 
Tercentenary Anniversary Jewelry (Courtesy Bonhams London; Nagel Auktionen, Stuttgart, Germany)
Tercentenary Anniversary Jewelry (Courtesy Bonhams London; Nagel Auktionen, Stuttgart, Germany)

Tercentenary Anniversary Jewelry
(Courtesy Bonhams London; Nagel Auktionen, Stuttgart, Germany)

 

Two presentation gifts with state emblems – an Imperial double-headed eagle and a cap of Monomakh with five gold-set amethysts – have been discovered during the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Empire.

The Bonhams’ pendant with a necklace was acquired by the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty from Fabergé’s St. Petersburg branch on 28 February 1913 for 90 rubles.

The brooch in the Nagel Auktionen Stuttgart (October 9-10, 2013) did not sell.

[More information: Celebrating the Romanov Tercentenary with Fabergé Imperial Presentation Pieces: A Review by Roy Tomlin]

November 27, 2013  MacDougall’s London
Works of Art

 
Bell Push by Julius Rappoport, 1899-1903 (Courtesy MacDougall's London)
Bell Push by Julius Rappoport, 1899-1903
(Courtesy MacDougall’s London)
 
Exhibitions
(Updates are posted in Exhibitions on the Fabergé Research Site)
 

July 8, 2013  International Museum of the Horse, Lexington, Kentucky

Opening of a semi-permanent exhibition honoring Frank Caton (1852-1926) as a new “Immortal” inductee into the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. A highlight in the “Frank Caton and Russian Harness Racing” exhibit is an octagonal presentation tray by Fabergé with eight ovals engraved with the names of 43 Russian donors.

 
Danish Royal 50th Wedding Anniversary Kovsh (von Habsburg and Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, 1993, 234-35)
Danish Royal 50th Wedding Anniversary Kovsh
(von Habsburg and Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, 1993, 234-35)
 
August 30 – December 1, 2013  Museum of National History, Fredericksborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark and the Tsars in Russia, 1600-1900
Venue includes the Golden Wedding Anniversary wine cooler (32.4″ | 82.2 cm long) created by Fabergé as a gift from Tsar Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna to her parents, King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark, and a necklace of pendant eggs also by Fabergé.
 
Publications
 
 
Chased Red Cross Box, Workshop of Anna Ringe before 1912, 2” in Diameter (Courtesy The McFerrin Collection)
Chased Red Cross Box, Workshop of Anna Ringe before 1912, 2” in Diameter
(Courtesy The McFerrin Collection)
 

From a Snowflake to an Iceberg: The McFerrin Collection

The Artie and Dorothy McFerrin Collection has quickly become one of the world’s most significant private Fabergé collections. Exquisite photography supplemented with auction catalog descriptions and interesting reflections by Dorothy McFerrin chronicle Fabergé’s masterworks along with the Romanov family and other patrons of the House of Fabergé. A plethora of research essays for the book highlighting unique aspects of the collection were contributed by Timothy Adams, John Atzbach, Daniel Brière, Tatiana Fabergé, Alice Milica Ilich, Christel Ludewig McCanless, Dorothy McFerrin, Dr. Mark A. Schaffer, Peter L. Schaffer, Matthew Stuart-Lyon, Dr. Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Dr. Géza von Habsburg, and Annemiek Wintraecken. Proceeds from the publication will benefit the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas where the collection is on view for an indefinite time.

 
Searching for Fabergé – We Found It!
 
 
Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Annemiek Wintraecken, and Christel McCanless at 24 Bolshaya Morskaya, St.Petersburg, Russia
Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, Annemiek Wintraecken, and Christel McCanless
at 24 Bolshaya Morskaya, St.Petersburg, Russia