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Sivosten webZine :: Easter eggs one of a kind
Easter eggs one of a kind

Author: Lyuben "LifeJoker" Zagorchev, Thursday, 21 February 2008.

In Articles :: Popular; Propose a Second Opinion

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XIX centurys second half. Imperial Russia flourished in royal splendor and peasant misery. Except for a military power on a global basis, the giant country had become a seat of art, home to world-wide famous composers, writers and artists. And though the class division was formidable, the ruling strata and the citizenry were in no way inferior to West-european refined manners and lifestyle. Architecturally St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities for its palaces and public buildings at least. And there, in 1842, Gustav Faberge opened his first atelier. Decades later, the family name of the Livonia-born (now Estonia) jewelry master would stand out along with the Smirnoff and a lot more other names as a symbol of Russia. Yet the people behind the names stood out from a distance all of them driven into emigration by the October revolution, compelled to sell the rights upon their own names to the corporate sharks. But then, in the glorious times of Russia, their business prospered under the wing of the debauched high society.

Gustavs son and successor, Peter Carl Faberge, managed to amplify not only the reputation, but the size of the family company as well, establishing branches in Moscow, Kiev (now Kyiv) and the largest European capitals. But in 1917 he was forced to leave Russia, dying three years later in Switzerland. His own heirs never managed to restore the business in Western Europe to its former glory. Therefore, they were finally urged to sell the brand.

During his zenith, except for the quality jewels, Faberge earned his place in history for his most famous Easter eggs a sort of symbol of the tsarism in Russia. A total of 50 finished and a few unfinished, they are unique pieces of jewelry evolved to pure art or to a vivid personification of kitsch, according to the eye of the beholder. Every one of them is carefully constructed and reveals a scene of the Empires or the Royal Familys life, recreated in gold and gems.

The creation of the first egg was ordered by Alexander III as an Easter gift for his wife, tsaritsa Maria. This is the most plain looking of all. It looks like a normal egg, but inside of it, much like in a Russian doll, there are a golden yolk, a golden hen and finally a miniature crown with ruby. The queen took such delight in her new toy, that the gift-giving of such valuable presents was soon to become a tradition. And Faberge of course was there to fill in the vacant position of a jewelry egg master.

Nikolay II stuck to the tradition, ordering Faberge eggs for his mother. Between 1885 and 1917 their overall count exceeded 50. After the Revolution, most of them found their way to private collections sold off by Stalin, sometimes at laughable prices. Others were lost, but a few remained in Russia and are now being exhibited at the Kremlin.

Among the most exquisite Faberge eggs is the Memory of Azov, made in 1891. Its made of jasper, generously ornamented with golden threads and diamonds, and inside of it theres a miniature model of the ship by the same name, made out of platinum and gold, on an aquamarine base, representing the sea. In 1897, for the crowning and the ascention to the throne of Nikolay II, Faberge made the Coronation Egg of gold and diamonds, ornamented with the Imperial Eagle and with a carriage inside. The Trans-Siberian railroad earned itself an egg in 1900. Made of silver, onyx and quartz, and supported by four golden griffons, it contains one small steam locomotive.

My personal favourite is the Winter Egg from 1913, one of the presents for Nikolays mother. Made of platinum, quartz, orthoclase and indecent quantity of diamonds, its a semi-transparent imitation of rime and ice. Inside of it theres a bouquet of flowers on golden moss. In 2002 the Winter Egg switched its owner for a price of over 9 million dollars.

Every one of Faberges eggs is an absolutely unique work of art and contains some little surprise, pretty much like a very expensive toy. Even for their materials solely, their cost is enormous, and when we add the workmanship and the historic value for Russia, maybe there is no price thats high enough. And though theyre quite unsuitable for the traditional Easter egg-breaking, one of them would look very pretty by the fireplace. Of course, if you can afford it.

Commentary topic: http://www.sivosten.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=199391#199391

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