Happy Easter to all of our readers and followers who celebrate the holiday! In honour of the occasion, we are taking a look at the stunning Imperial Fabergé Eggs, given by the Tsars of Russia to their Tsarinas on Easter between 1885 and 1917. Made under the supervision of celebrated Russian jeweller, Peter Carl Fabergé, these jeweled eggs are one of the finest examples of Imperial wealth and design, famous for their surprises. Of the 50 Imperial Eggs that were created, 43 are still extant. Take a look below at some of them-
Hen Egg, 1885
Known as the Hen Egg, this gold and enamel egg was ordered by Tsar Alexander III for his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1885. The couple liked it so much that they started a tradition of ordering jeweled eggs from Fabergé every Easter. The egg opens to reveal a gold yolk. Inside the yolk is a gold hen which opens to reveal a diamond and gold crown which contained a ruby pendant. The crown and pendant are now missing. The Hen Egg was kept in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolutions, when it was sent to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin. It was sold in 1920, 1934, 1976, 1978, and lastly in 2004, when Viktor Vekselberg bought nine eggs from the Forbes family. The Hen Egg is currently on display at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Third Imperial Egg, 1887
Known as the Third Imperial Egg, this jewelled and ridged gold Egg with a Vacheron & Constantin watch was delivered on Easter 1887. Kept in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolutions, and then sent to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin, this egg disappeared and was thought to be lost until 2014, when its then owner discovered an article that told him the egg he had bought to be sold as scrap was a missing Imperial Faberge egg. It was sold through London jewellers Wartski to a private collector.
Renaissance Egg, 1894
The last egg presented by Tsar Alexander III to his Empress, the 1894 jeweled enamel Renaissance Egg contained a surprise now lost. Kept in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolutions, it was sold in 1921, 1937, 1949, 1965, and in 2004 as one of the nine eggs Viktor Vekselberg bought from the Forbes family. The Renaissance Egg is currently on display at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Rosebud Egg, 1895
The first egg presented to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by Tsar Nichols II (continuing a tradition his father started), the 1895 Rosebud Egg contained a yellow-enamelled rosebud, a gold crown, and a cabochon ruby pendant. Kept by the Empress until the 1917 revolutions, it was sold in 1927, the 1930s, 1985, and in 2004 to Viktor Vekselberg. The Rosebud Egg is on display at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Blue Serpent Clock Egg, 1895
The First Egg given by Tsar Nichols II to his mother, Empress Maria Feodorovna, for Easter 1895, the Blue Serpent Clock Egg, made of enamel, gold, and diamonds, continued a tradition his father started. Kept in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolutions, and then sent to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin, this egg was bought and sold multiple times by Wartski’s between 1922 and 1974, sold agin in the 1980s, and bought by Prince Rainier III of Monaco sometime before 1992. The Blue Serpent Clock Egg is currently owned by his son, Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Imperial Coronation Egg, 1897
Made for Easter 1897, the Imperial Coronation Egg was was given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to mark the Imperial Coronation held the year before. The surprise was a replica of the Imperial Coronation Coach. It was displayed in the Empress’s apartments in the Winter Palace, and sold in 1927, 1934, 1945, 1979, and 2004, when Viktor Vekselberg bought the egg from the Forbes family. The Imperial Coronation Egg is currently on display at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Mauve Egg, 1898
Given by Tsar Nichols II to his mother, Empress Maria Feodorovna, for Easter 1898, only the surprise of the Mauve Egg, composed of a heart shaped photo frame that opens as a three-leaf clover with each leaf containing three miniature portraits of Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their first child, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, survives. It was made of rose-cut diamonds, strawberry red, green and white enamel, pearls and watercolour on ivory. The surprise of the Mauve Egg is on display at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Lilies of the Valley Egg, 1898
Given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by Tsar Nichols II for Easter 1898, the enamel and pearl Lilies of the Valley Egg’s surprise was three portraits (of the Tsar and their two eldest daughters) which elevated out of the egg using a button. It is housed at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Bouquet of Lilies Clock Egg, 1899
Given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1899, the Bouquet of Lilies Clock Egg, made of enamel, onyx, and diamonds with an onyx bouquet of Madonna lilies, contained a (now missing) ruby and rose-cut diamond pendant, and is one of the few Imperial eggs that never left Russia. It is currently held in the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.
Trans-Siberian Railway Egg, 1900
The Trans-Siberian Railway Egg was given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1900. It contains a miniature clockwork replica of a steam locomotive made of gold and platinum and had a key that can be used to wind it up and make it run. Another one of the Eggs that never left Russia, the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg is currently held in the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.
Cockerel Egg, 1900
Given to Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1900, the Cockerel Egg (also known as the Cuckoo Clock Egg) has a mechanism on the top rear that enables its bird to come out and move. Bought by Viktor Vekselberg in 2004, it is housed at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Basket of Wild Flowers Egg, 1901
Made for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1901, the Basket of Wild Flowers Egg was sold to Wartski’s in 1927, where it was acquired by Queen Mary of the United Kingdom in 1933. The Egg remains in the Royal Collection.
Moscow Kremlin Egg, 1906
The Moscow Kremlin Egg was supposed to be presented to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1904, but was delayed by the Russo-Japanese War, and eventually presented in 1906. The Egg contains a gold music box that plays two cherubim chants. It was displayed in the Empress’s favourite Mauve Sitting Room in the Alexander Palace, and is now held at the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.
Colonnade Egg, 1910
Given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1910, the Colonnade Egg features a temple of love, with a pair of platinum doves representing the love of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra. Four silver-gilt cherubs sit around the base of the egg, each representing their four daughters, while a silver-gilt cupid, represents their only son and heir, Tsarevich Alexei. Sold to Wartski’s in 1927, it was acquired by Queen Mary of the United Kingdom in 1931. The Colonnade Egg is one of three Imperial Fabergé in the Royal Collection.
Fifteenth Anniversary Egg, 1911
Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Coronation, the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg was given by Tsar Nichols II to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1911. Made of gold, enamel, diamonds, and rock crystal, the surface features eighteen panels set with 16 miniatures. It is housed at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Bay Tree Egg, 1911
Given to Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1911, the Bay Tree Egg features a feathered songbird that rises and flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings when a tiny lever disguised as a fruit is turned. Kept in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolutions, it was sold in 1927, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1965, and 2004, when the Bay Tree Egg was bought by Viktor Vekselberg in 2004. It is housed at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Romanov Tercentenary Egg, 1913
Made for the Tercentenary of the Romanov Dynasty in 1913, the Romanov Tercentenary Egg was given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1913. Made of gold and diamonds, it features eighteen portraits of the Romanov Tsars of Russia. It opens up to reveal a dark blue enamel globe. The Romanov Tercentenary Egg is one of ten Imperial Eggs held at the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow.
Winter Egg, 1913
Made of quartz, platinum, orthoclase, and studded with diamonds, the 1913 Winter Egg, given to Empress Maria Feodorovna, is the most expensive Fabergé Egg commissioned by the Tsar. It features a surprise of a basket of flowers. The Winter Egg reportedly belongs to the Emir of Qatar, bought for $9.6 million at Christie’s in 2002.
Mosaic Egg, 1914
Given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1914, the Mosaic Egg features and intricate mesh fitted with tiny diamonds, rubies, topaz, sapphires, garnets, pearls and emeralds. The surprise pedestal features a cameo of their five children. In 1933, it was acquired by Queen Mary of the United Kingdom. The Mosaic Egg is one of three Imperial Fabergé in the Royal Collection.
Catherine the Great Egg, 1914
The Catherine the Great Egg (also known as Grisaille Egg and Pink Cameo Egg) was given to Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1914. It features pink enamel panels painted in cameo style with miniature allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences based on French artist François Boucher. The surprise (now lost) was described as “a mechanical sedan chair, carried by two blackamoors, with Catherine the Great seated inside.” The Catherine the Great Egg is now owned by the Hillwood Museum.
Order of St. George Egg, 1916
The last Fabergé Egg received by Empress Maria Feodorovna, the 1916 Order of St. George Egg features portraits of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarevich Alexei below the Crosses of St. George. It was was the only Egg taken Empress Maria Feodorovna into exile, and was inherited by her daughter, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia in 1928. In 1960, after the Grand Duchess’s death, the Order of St. George Egg was sold at Sotheby’s. It is housed at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Karelian Birch Egg, 1917
The last Fabergé Egg commissioned for Empress Maria Feodorovna, the 1917 Karelian Birch Egg was sent to the Palace of her son, Grand Duke Michael, after the February Revolution which ended the monarchy, to be presented to the Empress. However, both Maria Feodorovna and the Grand Duke had fled St. Petersburg before it arrived, and the Egg was looted from the Palace in October. Presumed lost, the Karelian Birch Egg reappeared when it was bought Moscow collector Alexander Ivanov in 2001. It is displayed at the Faberge Museum in Baden-Baden.
Constellation Egg, 1917
The last Imperial Fabergé Egg, the 1917 Constellation Egg, featuring blue glass with a crystal base, stars marked by diamonds, and a clock mechanism inside the egg, was not finished nor presented to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. There are two versions of the Egg, the first in the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow, the second in the Faberge Museum in Baden-Baden.
The Cockerel Egg, Lilies of the Valley Egg, and Blue Serpent Clock Egg exhibited in 1980.
Some of the Fabergé Eggs exhibited as part of a Russian Art exhibition in 1935.
King George I of Greece’s Fabergé Egg
A Fabergé enamel and gold egg bonbonniere from the collection of King George I of the Hellenes, brother of Empress Maria Feodorovna, was sold at Christie’s in London in 2007.
Apple Blossom Egg, 1901
Made by Russian industrialist Alexander Kelch for his wife Varvara Kelch-Bazanova in 1901, the Apple Blossom Egg is composed of nephrite, green and red gold, silver diamonds, matt pink and white enamel with the blossoms made out of pink foiled rose cut diamonds mounted in silver and surrounded by pink and white enamel panels. Purchased by Liechtenstein art collector Adulf Peter Goop in 1996 at Sotheby’s, it was left to the Liechtenstein state in 2010, a year prior to his death. The Apple Blossom Egg was exhibited at Harrod’s in London, and is part of a permanent exhibition at the Liechtensteinisches Landesmuseum in Vaduz.
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