A Fabergé egg (Russian: Яйца Фаберже́; yaytsa faberzhe) is a jeweled egg made by the House of Fabergé from 1885 to 1917. Most were miniature eggs that were popular gifts at Easter. They were worn on a neck chain either singly or in groups.
The most famous eggs produced by the House were the larger ones made for Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia; these are often referred to as the 'Imperial' Fabergé eggs. Approximately 50 eggs were made; 42 have survived. Another two eggs, the Constellation and Karelian Birch eggs, were planned for 1918 but not delivered, as Nicholas II and his family were executed that year, and Nicholas had abdicated the crown the year before.
Seven large eggs were made for the Kelch family of Moscow.
The eggs are made of precious metals or hard stones decorated with combinations of enamel and gem stones. The Fabergé egg has become a symbol of luxury, and the eggs are regarded as masterpieces of the jeweler's art.
'Fabergé egg' typically refers to products made by the company before the 1917 Revolution, but use of the Fabergé name has occasionally been disputed, and the trademark has been sold several times since the Fabergé family left Russia after 1917 (see House of Fabergé), so several companies have subsequently retailed egg-related merchandise using the Fabergé name. The trademark is currently owned by Fabergé Limited, which also makes egg-themed jewellery.
The first Fabergé egg was crafted for Tsar Alexander III, who decided to give his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna, an Easter Egg in 1885, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed[by whom?] that the Tsar’s inspiration for the piece was an egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark, which had captivated Maria’s imagination in her childhood. Known as the Hen Egg, it is crafted from gold. Its opaque white enameled ‘shell’ opens to reveal its first surprise, a matte yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multi-coloured gold hen that also opens. It contained a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended. Unfortunately, these last two surprises have been lost.
Empress Maria was so delighted by this gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a ‘goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown’. He commissioned another egg the following year. After that, Peter Carl Fabergé, who headed the House, was apparently given complete freedom for future Imperial Easter Eggs, as from this date their designs become more elaborate. According to the Fabergé family tradition, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take: the only requirement was that each one should contain a surprise. Following the death of Alexander III on November 1, 1894, his son presented a Fabergé egg to both his wife, the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, and to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna.
No eggs were made for 1904 and 1905 because of the Russo-Japanese War. Once an initial design had been approved by Peter Carl Fabergé, the work was carried out by an entire team of craftsmen, among them Michael Perkhin, Henrik Wigström and Erik August Kollin.
The Imperial eggs enjoyed great fame, and Fabergé made some other large eggs for a few select private clients, such as the Duchess of Marlborough, the Nobels, the Rothschilds and the Yusupovs. A series of seven eggs was made for the industrialist Alexander Kelch.
List of Fabergé Tsar Imperial Easter eggs
||This section may contain original research. (June 2012)|
Below there is given a chronology of the eggs made for the imperial family, though there has been dispute about the dates of some eggs. An alternative chronology dates the Blue Serpent Clock Egg as made in 1895, and states that the Twelve Monograms egg is in fact the supposedly lost Alexander III Portraits egg, made in 1896. Thus, according to this chronology, the 1887 "Gold egg with clock" would be in fact lost.
- 1885 Hen - The First Hen Egg or Jeweled Hen Egg is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, the first in a series of fifty-four jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was made and delivered to Tsar Alexander III of Russia in 1885. The tsarina and the tsar enjoyed the egg so much that Alexander III ordered a new egg from Fabergé for his wife every Easter thereafter. The egg is currently located in Russia as part of the Vekselberg Collection.
- 1886 Hen with Sapphire Pendant - The Hen with Sapphire Pendant Egg or Egg with Hen in Basket is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one in a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was created in 1886 for Alexander III of Russia, who presented it to his wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. It is one of eight eggs that are currently lost.
- 1887 Blue Serpent Clock - The Blue Serpent Clock Egg is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one of a series of fifty-four jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. This is the first of the Imperial Fabergé eggs to feature a clock, and is a design that Fabergé copied for his Duchess of Marlborough Egg in 1902. It was crafted and delivered in 1887 to the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III. It is currently owned by Prince Albert II, and is held in Monaco. This egg, along with the First Hen Egg, is the only known surviving Imperial egg from the 1880s.
- 1888 Cherub with Chariot - The Cherub with Chariot Egg or Angel with Egg in Chariot is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one of a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was crafted and delivered in 1888 to the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III. This is one of the lost Imperial eggs, so few details are known about it.
- 1889 Nécessaire - The Nécessaire Egg is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one of a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was crafted and delivered to the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III who presented it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna on Easter day 1889. The egg is one of the lost Imperial eggs.
- 1890 Danish Palaces - The Danish Palaces Egg is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one of a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. It was crafted and delivered to the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III who presented it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna on Easter day 1890. The egg is currently owned by the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation and housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.
- 1891 Memory of Azov
- 1892 Diamond Trellis
- 1893 Caucasus
- 1894 Renaissance
- 1895 Rosebud
- 1895 Twelve Monograms
- 1896 Revolving Miniatures
- 1896 Alexander III Portraits†
- 1897 Coronation
- 1897 Mauve†
- 1898 Lilies-of-the-Valley - The Lilies of the Valley Egg is a jewelled Fabergé egg made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in 1898 by Fabergé ateliers. The supervising goldsmith was Michael Perchin. The egg is one of the two eggs in Art Nouveau style. It was presented on April 5 to Tzar Nicholas II, and was used as a gift to the Tsaritsa, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. The egg is part of the Vekselberg Collection.
- 1898 Pelican
- 1899 Bouquet of Lilies Clock
- 1899 Pansy
- 1900 Trans-Siberian Railway
- 1900 Cockerel
- 1901 Basket of Wild Flowers
- 1901 Gatchina Palace
- 1902 Clover Leaf
- 1902 Empire Nephrite†
- 1903 Peter the Great
- 1903 Royal Danish†
- 1904 No eggs made
- 1905 No eggs made
- 1906 Moscow Kremlin
- 1906 Swan
- 1907 Rose Trellis
- 1907 Cradle with Garlands
- 1908 Alexander Palace
- 1908 Peacock
- 1909 Standart Yacht
- 1909 Alexander III Commemorative†
- 1910 Colonnade
- 1910 Alexander III Equestrian
- 1911 Fifteenth Anniversary
- 1911 Bay Tree
- 1912 Czarevich
- 1912 Napoleonic
- 1913 Romanov Tercentenary
- 1913 Winter
- 1914 Mosaic
- 1914 Grisaille
- 1915 Red Cross with Triptych
- 1915 Red Cross with Imperial Portraits
- 1916 Steel Military
- 1916 Order of St. George
- 1917 Karelian Birch
- 1917 Constellation (unfinished)
- † Indicates missing egg
List of Fabergé Kelch eggs
Other Fabergé eggs
Location of eggs
Of the 65 known large Fabergé eggs, 57 have survived to the present day. Ten of the Imperial Easter Eggs are displayed at the Kremlin Armory Museum, Moscow in Russia. Of the 50 known Imperial eggs, 42 have survived.
Following the Russian Revolution, the House of Fabergé was nationalized by the Bolsheviks, and the Fabergé family fled to Switzerland, where Peter Carl Fabergé died in 1920. The Romanov palaces were ransacked and their treasures moved on order of Vladimir Lenin to the Kremlin Armoury.
In a bid to acquire more foreign currency, Joseph Stalin had many of the eggs sold in 1927, after their value had been appraised by Agathon Fabergé. Between 1930 and 1933, 14 Imperial eggs left Russia. Many of the eggs were sold to Armand Hammer, president of Occidental Petroleum and a personal friend of Lenin, whose father was founder of the United States Communist party, and Emanuel Snowman of the London antique dealers Wartski.
After the collection in the Kremlin Armoury, the largest gathering of Fabergé eggs was assembled by Malcolm Forbes, and displayed in New York City. Totalling nine eggs, and approximately 180 other Fabergé objects, the collection was put up for auction at Sotheby's in February 2004 by Forbes' heirs. Before the auction even began the collection was purchased in its entirety by the oligarch Victor Vekselberg for a sum estimated between $90 and $120 million.
In November 2007, a Fabergé clock, named by Christie's auction house the Rothschild egg, sold at auction for £8.9 million (including commission). The price achieved by the egg set three auction records: it is the most expensive timepiece, Russian object and Fabergé object ever sold at auction, surpassing the $9.6 million sale of the 1913 Winter egg in 2002.
In 1989, as part of the San Diego Arts Festival, 26 Faberge eggs were loaned for display at the San Diego Museum of Art, the largest exhibition of Faberge eggs anywhere since the Russian Revolution.
|Location of the Fabergé eggs||Number|
|Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia (formerly Forbes)||9|
|Kremlin Armoury, Moscow, Russia||10|
|Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA||5|
|Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee, USA||3|
|Royal Collection, London, UK||3|
|Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland||2|
|Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., USA||2|
|Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA||2|
|Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA||1|
|Albert II of Monaco collection, Monte-Carlo, Monaco||1|
|The State of Qatar||1|
|Private Collections, USA||3|
|Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia (formerly Forbes)||2|
|Royal Collection, London, UK||1|
|Viktor Vekselberg collection, Russia (formerly Forbes)||2|
|Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, USA||1|
|Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Switzerland||1|
|Russian National Museum, Moscow, Russia||1|
Gallery↑Jump back a section
- The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs,by Fabergé, Skurlov, Proler, London, 1997, page 90. ISBN 0-903432-48-X
- Story of the Kelch eggs from mieks.com[dead link]
- Corder, Rob (2011-11-18). "Faberge: A Regal Renaissance". ProfessionalJeweller.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Article on the first Hen egg". Mieks.com. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- The 50 delivered Imperial Eggs, the Karelian Birch Egg, the 7 Kelch Eggs, the Duchess of Marlborough, the Rothschild, the Youssoupov, Nobel, the Resurection, Spring Flowers, and the Blue Striped Enamel eggs - total 65
- "Faberge". Treasures of Imperial Russia. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Faberge Eggs - the fate of the eggs". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "Buying Putin's Indulgences". Energy Tribune. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- The clock was previously documented and had been published in 1964 in L'Objet 1900 by Maurice Rheims, plate 29
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7116956.stm Fabergé egg sold for record £8.9m, BBC News, 28 November 2007
- Varoli, John (2007-11-28). "Muse Arts". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
-  New York Times, May 28, 1989
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Fabergé eggs|
- Mieks; website on pictures, history, whereabouts... of Fabergé eggs
- Fabergé Research Site by Christel Ludewig McCanless
- Details on each of the Fabergé Eggs
- BYU article on the eggs