Elaborate, bold and intricate, Fabergé is Russia’s most iconic jewellers. Best known for its opulent Imperial Eggs, made for Russian Tsars, it’s been creating stunning jewel-encrusted pieces of art since 1842. The Fabergé Museum at Shuvalov Palace is home to a priceless collection of jewellery, decorative items and historical artefacts, from Alexandra Feodorovna’s sparkling Coronation Egg to a rare traditional Russian kovsh, and much more. With so much to discover, the museum’s curators, Alexey Pomigalov and Karina Pronitcheva, have come together to present an exclusive look at some of their favourite pieces.
“A gift from Emperor Nicholas II – the last Russian Emperor – to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1897, this egg commemorates details of her coronation. Her gold brocade coronation mantle was Carl Fabergé’s inspiration for the finish of the yellow eggshell, and the surprise inside the egg is a miniature copy of the coronation carriage.”
“Returning to St Petersburg after several years of studying jewellery making in Western Europe, Fabergé went to work in his father’s firm, and later became the restorer of jewellery in the Treasure Gallery of the Imperial Hermitage. Inspired by the works of the old jewellers, Carl Fabergé created a series of Scythian gold replicas. This lion’s head bracelet belonged to the collection and was made by master Erik Collin and presented at the All-Russia Industrial and Art Exhibition in 1882.”
“Having entered the UK market, Fabergé quickly attracted influential customers such as the Royal family and English aristocrats. Among them was the wealthy family of Baron Leopold de Rothschild, who often ordered objects with a combination of yellow-gold and dark blue stripes, to represent the Rothschild jockey colours at royal horse races.”
“Enamel painter Feodor Rückert created his own unique style inspired by national romanticism. He often featured famous Russian paintings on his jewellery objects; for instance, the cover of this jewellery box is adorned with an enamel miniature based on the 1883 painting, A Boyar Wedding Feast by Konstantin Makovsky.”
“In 1909, American business magnate and horse breeder Cornelius K G Billings arrived in Russia, where his famous horse Lou Dillon took part in the run of the Imperial Moscow Society for the Promotion of Horse Trotting. As a reward for a spectacular and graceful race, Billings received a substantial presentational Kovsh (a traditional drinking vessel in the oval shape of a boat), made-to-order by jeweller Feodor Rückert.”
“Antip Kuzmichev often worked with world-famous Tiffany & Co jewellers from the United States, for whom he made this sumptuous punch set. Following a traditional Russian style, most of the items are decorated with Russian proverbs and aphorisms.”
“This Tea and Coffee Service, prepared for the wedding of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich (son of Tsar Nicholas II), was one of the principle masterpieces of applied art created in the original Russian style by the Sazikov company. The sketches of the service were prepared by artist and archaeologist Feodor Solnstev, one of the main initiators of Russian style in the 19th century.”
“This block sculpture was made in one Fabergé’s stone-carving workshops. Carved from natural minerals, it was acquired by Emperor Nicholas II in 1900 and represents an image of a Russian peasant dancing.”
“The Grand Staircase of Shuvalov Palace was built in the 1840s by Nikolay Yefimov during the reconstruction of the central part of the palace. Later, an elegant and heavily decorated plaster cupola (rounded dome) was placed above the staircase.”
“The Sky Blue Room is probably the most mysterious place in the whole palace. Next to the fireplace there was an entrance to a large hiding space, only discovered after the revolution, which contained a closet hiding works of art from the vast Shuvalov collection.”
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