Friday, October 05, 2007

Artist: Peter Carl Faberge (1846-1920)

Welcome to another mini-exhibit at my blog. This week I'm featuring the work of Peter Carl Faberge.

Easter is the most joyful celebration of the Orthodox faith in Russia. After the devout church services, families gather to exchange gifts of decorated eggs, symbols of renewed life and hope. The Easter of 1885 also marks the twentieth anniversary of Czar Alexander III and Czarina Maria Fedorovna, and the Czar needs an exceptional gift for his wife. So he places an order with a young jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, whose beautiful creations have recently caught Maria's eye.

On Easter morning, Fabergé delivers to the palace what appears to be a simple enameled egg. But to the delight of the Empress, inside is a golden yolk; within the yolk is a golden hen; and concealed within the hen is a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg – both now lost to history. His wife's delight is all the Czar needs to reward Fabergé with a commissionfor an Easter egg every year. The requirements are straightforward: each egg must be unique, and each must contain a suitable surprise for the Empress. With consummate craftsmanship and an inventive spirit, Fabergé repeatedly meets the challenge, borrowing inspiration from the gilded lives of the Czar and Czarina.

All the elements of the Romanov story come together most elegantly in the Fifteenth Anniversary egg (1911), a family album just over five-inches-tall. Exquisitely detailed paintings depict the most notable events of the reign of Nicholas II and each of the family members. "Not only is it a staggering tour-de-force of the jeweler's art," says Forbes, "but probably more than any other egg, it is the one most intimately associated with the whole tragedy of Nicholas and Alexandra and that incredibly beautiful family. There are these five children – all these sort of glamorous events surrounding their lives – and there they are looking out at us happily unknowing what was going to happen to them just a few years later.


One of only two eggs executed in the Art Nouveau style, this golden egg is covered by a multitude of pearls and pale pink enamel. The egg is supported by cabriole legs of matte green-gold leaves with rose diamond dewdrops. The gold-stemmed lilies of the valley have green enamelled leaves and pearl flowers. The egg is topped by an Imperial crown of rose diamonds and cabachon rubies. A pearl knob, when twisted, reveals the surprise of this egg: portrait miniatures of Czar Nicholas II and his two oldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana. The portraits are raised by a geared mechanism inside the egg that causes the portraits to spread fan-like once they have emerged. The portraits are framed in rose diamonds and backed with gold panels engraved with the presentation date: April 5, 1898.
--Bruce R. Schulman

The Trans-Siberian Railway Egg – 1900 This egg commemorates the completion of the trans- siberian railway line. On the silver part in the middle is etched a railway line map, with the stations of various jewels. The train is of gold and platinum with an ingenious wind-up mechanism. The cars are individually distinct: a gentlemen’s car, a restaurant, and even a traveling church are part of the foot-long locomotive. --Caleb Bailey

Bruce R. Schulman states that until Faberge, "...many felt the value of jewelry was intrinsic, based upon the precious metals and stones. Faberge felt that the artistic creativity and fine craftsmanship of jewelry made it art that transcended bullion value."

Truly, the man revolutionized the art of jewelry making. (Pardon my pun.) Someday I may write a story involving Faberge eggs. I think they're fascinating.

Enjoy your weekend. Come back next Friday for more art! :D



Blogger Laura Bacchi said...

I love Faberge eggs but I haven't done any research on him. Thanks for sharing this!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Rusty Wicks said...

I loved this post! Thanks for entertaining and teaching me, and the photos are gorgeous. :)

2:24 AM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

Thanks for stopping by, Laura and Rusty! There ARE eggs that were made but are unaccounted for. They'd make a great story, methinks.

7:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home