Monday, September 08, 2008

Fabulous Fabergé

Trans-Siberian Railroad Fabergé Egg - 1900

I've been reading a wonderful book, Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie. Not only is it an insightful history of the life and death of the last Tsar of Russia, but the scope of the book encompasses a slice of European history during the reign of Nicholas II, which was from 1894 to 1917.

The modestly lengthy tome has information on many things, and one of the items of interest to art aficionados , is the Fabergé Trans-Siberian Railway egg, gifted by Tsar Nicholas II as an Easter gift to his wife, the Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna in 1900. It is said to be one of the finest of the 69 jeweled eggs made by Peter Carl Fabergé and his assistants between 1885 and 1917. It is currently on display in the Kremlin Armoury museum in Moscow.

The exterior of the exqusite egg is made of onyx, silver, gold, and quartz. It is decorated with colored enamel and the interior is lined with velvet. The egg is supported by three gold-plated griffins, and the surprise inside is a miniature replica of a steam locomotive made of gold and platinum.

The term "Fabergé egg" has become a synonym of luxury and the eggs are regarded as masterpieces of the jeweller's art. Fifty Imperial Fabergé Easter eggs were made and presented to Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia. The eggs are made of precious metals or hard stones decorated with combinations of enamel and gem stones.

Carl Fabergé and his goldsmiths designed and constructed the first egg in 1885. It was commissioned by Czar Alexander III of Russia as an Easter surprise for his wife Maria Fyodorovna. On the outside it looked like a simple egg of white enamelled gold, but it opened up to reveal a golden yolk. The yolk itself had a golden hen inside it, which in turn had a tiny crown with a ruby hanging inside, reminiscent of the matryoshka nesting dolls.

Empress Maria was so delighted by this gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a "Court Supplier" and commissioned an Easter gift each year thereafter, stipulating only that it be unique and contain a surprise. His son, Nicholas II of Russia continued the tradition, annually presenting an egg each spring to his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna as well as his then-widowed mother.

To view more of the fabulous eggs click here.

(c) 2008 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

1 comment:

Cary said...

Thanks so much for this excellent and informative post! The detail and craftsmanship that went into each egg is just mind-boggling. Have you ever seen an actual Faberge egg? I work for Positively Cleveland, and right now we're working to get the word out about an upcoming at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It's called "Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique", and will feature exquisite examples of each artist's work. If you get a chance the exhibit is well worth a trip to see these beautiful treasures in person. You can find more information at Additionally, Cleveland has many other destinations including the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame: There's something for everyone and lots to explore!

I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds by leaving this comment. I'm just trying to get the word out about this amazing exhibit so as many people as possible can have the experience of seeing this art with their own eyes. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to E-Mail me. I'd love to hear from you :)

Cary A. Andrews
Positively Cleveland