Two recently identified Fabergé eggs are on display today in Geneva, Switzerland, at the GemGenève International Gem and Jewelery show, in an exhibition of rare works by Carl Fabergé organized by the Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation. Elizabeth Feodorovna’s Nephrite Egg, 1904 and the Tsarevich egg, 1905 are featured alongside The bouquet of yellow lilies, 1893which has already been exhibited around the world, and other pieces carefully selected to open a window on the wider history of Fabergé, beyond the famous Easter eggs.
Fabergé eggs are ornate Easter eggs of astounding ingenuity and workmanship, designed by Russian jeweler Carl Fabergé in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were originally commissioned by the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II for their wives and mothers, but some were commissioned by wealthy families around the world like the Rothschild family, the Nobel family, and the British. Royal Family. Each is richly jeweled, enameled or set with precious stones, and many include a “surprise” inside, which can be anything from a small clock or a working train with five cars, to a miniature hen sitting on golden straw. Eggs are worth millions of dollars and some are considered priceless.
Elizabeth Feodorovna’s Nephrite Egg, 1904 is a highly polished dark green egg-shaped box made for Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, born Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, Germany, of Imperial Nephrite which at the time required an Imperial decree to be extracted. The gold and red enamel Egg of Tsesarevich, 1905 has a more mysterious past. One of the few eggs to still contain his surprise – a small hand seal – it has appeared several times at auction since it was made, but was only recently confirmed to have been created to mark the heir’s first Easter. of the Russian imperial throne, the Tsesarevich.
The two newly identified Fabergé eggs are both Imperial eggs, made for the Russian Royal Family, 52 of which are believed to have been created and subsequently confiscated during the Russian Revolution. From the 1920s they were sold out; today 10 are held in the Kremlin Armory and many more remain in private hands. On public view, three are in the Royal Collection in London, three in the Met Museum in New York and five in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Virginia, USA.
The eggs are part of the Fabulous Carl Fabergé exhibition at GemGenève, which marks the Foundation’s 40th anniversary by showing more than 160 rarely seen objects designed by Fabergé and his contemporaries. According to Berard Ivaldi, president of the Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation, the exhibition aims to “shed light on the immense richness of the Fabergé workshops and their influence on his contemporaries”. Pieces on display reflect the rich history and opulent artistry of the Fabergé workshops: an intricate diamond snowflake brooch designed by Carl Fabergé, a heart-shaped gold and red guilloché enamel bell pusher with pearls and chalcedony , and an extremely rare Fabergé enamel color chart. , which includes 144 samples of guilloche enamels, dating from 1890.
The exhibit was originally scheduled to be held at the Catherine Palace Museum near St. Petersburg in Russia, and Ivaldi sees this week’s show as “like a homecoming. We’ve been looking forward to bringing these imperial eggs to the public. Covid and the situation in Russia had deprived us of a major exhibition at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Carl Fabergé in 2020, and we are all the more delighted to be able to present this exhibition in Geneva , that Carl Fabergé died in Lully, Switzerland.”
The Foundation had presented various activated objects at GemGenève last spring, and when an additional edition was added in November, they took their chance and managed to put on an enchanting spectacle that would normally have taken over a year to prepare. “We are proud to share this moment of discovery [of the two new eggs] on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation”, continues Ivaldi.
The Foundation was created by the jeweler’s grandson in 1982, to preserve and promote his work. In 2012, the Foundation published Fabergé, a comprehensive reference work, the result of 10 years of meticulous research and today considered an essential reference for the work of Fabergé. More recently he has expanded his remit to include research into the archives of Igor Carl Fabergé in an exploration of his personal artistic activity.
GemGeneva until Sunday, November 6 in Geneva, Switzerland. Launched in 2018 by two gemstone dealers, the show has become one of the most exciting dates on the jewelry calendar, where gemstone dealers, jewelers and other industry players can interact with professional and private visitors. Other highlights include Strong & Precious, a Ukrainian jewelry showcase; and Vivarium Quartet, a focus on four contemporary jewelry designers, by jewelry historian Vivienne Becker.