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Catherine the Great Easter Egg

Made by: Fabergé __Firm ||Wigström, Henrik Immanuel __Workmaster ||Zuev, Vasilii Ivanovich __ __Miniature

On view in: Mansion Exhibit - Icon Room


About this object

Henrik Wigström, Fabergé's last head workmaster, created this egg for Nicholas II to present to his mother, Maria Fedorovna, on Easter morning in 1914. Vasilii Zuev, a designer employed by the Fabergé firm, painted the monochrome en camaïeu pink enamel panels with miniature allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences after French artist François Boucher. According to a letter from Maria Fedorovna to her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, the surprise in this egg was a mechanical sedan chair, carried by two blackamoors, with Catherine the Great seated inside (it has now been lost). To feature Catherine the Great, who prided herself on being a patron of the arts and sciences, as part of the surprise is certainly in keeping with this elaborate egg's style and imagery.

Egg is in the Louis XVI style in four color gold, engraved, set with tiny diamonds and pearls. Eight monochrome en camaïeu enamel paintings on pink opalescent enamel panels are the primary decoration. They are said to be miniature allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences after François Boucher were painted by Vasilii Zuev. Smaller enameled ovals featuring putti with attributes of the seasons appear above, below, and to the sides of the larger plaques. Enamels, rectangular and oval, have a row of pearls in the inner side of the frames and a line of white opaque enamel outside the pearls. Oval enamels have additional outer frames in two color gold with bowknots at top and sprays of leaves a the bottom, all in tiny diamonds. There are approximately 937 diamonds and 500 pearls. Between these enamels are panels of white and gold opalescent enamel attached are allegorical trophies in four color gold set against foliage, generally laurel, oak, or grape leaves. The initials of Maria Fedorovna in Cyrillic appear under a table diamond at the top and the year 1914 is found under a similar diamond at the bottom. Interior was made to hold a suprise that is now lost. Inside of cover is engraved with a guilloche pattern basket pattern in concentric circles. Base in four color gold has four legs ending in lion's feet and crossed arrows joining legs to each other. This stand is not original to piece. Original stand is missing.

Category:
GOLDWORK
Object name:
Egg
Made from:
Gold -- diamonds -- pearls -- opalescent enamel -- opaque enamel -- silver -- platinum -- mirror
Made in:
RUSSIA: Saint Petersburg
Date made:
1914
Size:
H. 4 3/4 in. (without stand)
overall __12.06 CM

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
11.81.1-2
Class:
GOLD
Signature marks:
MARK __FABERZHE __Inside edge of upper portion __In Cyrillic, all caps. ||signature and date __Zuev" 1914 g. __Bottom right corner of 8-sided enamel panel depicting the Arts __Translation: Zuev, 1914 ||signature __V. Zuev" [handwritten in Cyrillic] __On column at left on 8-sided panel depicting the Sciences __Trans: V. Zuev ||date __1914 __In black on mirror under diamond on bottom exterior. ||initials __MF [In Slavonic interlace] __In black on mirror under diamond on top, exterior. __Initials are those of Maria Fedorovna, recipient of the Easter gift. ||mark __[illegible] __Stamped in a circle inside lower lip (left), bottom half of egg. __An undated note in the file in KVHT's hand states that the initials H.W. of workmaster Henrik Wigström were visible. They were not visible as of 08/19/2002. ||assayor's mark __[illegible] __Stamped in circle inside lower lip (center), bottom half of egg. __An undated note in the file in KVHT's hand does not describe the central mark, but later records in the file says that it shows the proper marks for an item assayed at the St. Petersburg office between 1908 and 1917. The marks were not discernible as of 08/19/2002. ||unidentified mark __[illegible] __Stamped in circle inside lower lip (right), bottom half of egg. __An undated note in the file in KVHT's hand records the presence of the mark, but does not desribe or identify it. The mark was not identifiable during examination on 08/19/2002.
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Displayed in exhibition:
Five Hundred Years of Russian Art: An exhibition benefiting Russian War Relief, Gould House Galleries of Gimbel Brothers, 579 Fifth Avenue, New York, May 18, 1943 - ?
Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler, 1993-1994, Fabergé Arts Foundation. Jan 1993 - Jan 1994
Fabergé in America, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Feb. 16, 1996 - May 11, 1997, New York, Richmond, New Orleans and Cleveland.
Palm Beach 1939; Hammer Galleries, 1952
Peter Carl Fabergé, Imperial Court Jeweler, 1846-1920, Hammer Galleries, NY. March 28 - April 28, 1951.
A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum. Organized by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, 1998-2000
Fabergé, His Works; Hammer Galleries, New York, November 22- Dec.22, 1937
Featured in publication:
Odom, Anne. Fabergé at Hillwood. Edited by Nancy Eickel. The Hillwood Collection Series. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 1998.
Fisher, Frederick, Karen Kettering, Anne Odom, Liana Paredes Arend, and Gwen Stauffer. Hillwood Museum and Gardens: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Art Collector’s Personal Museum. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 2000.
Odom, Anne and Liana Paredes Arend. A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum. Edited by Nancy Eickel. Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1998.
Odom, Anne and Wendy R. Salmond, ed. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia’s Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 2009. Distributed by University of Washington Press.