ART OF COLLECTING FABERGE

Introduction to Faberge Art

Faberge aimed to give pleasure and to celebrate some special occasion with a beautiful gift. His creations usually, given by men to women: by the Tsar to the Tsarina, King Edward to Queen Alexandra, a Russian officer of the Imperial Guard to an admired ballerina or an Edwardian gentleman to a social beauty. No-one during his lifetime would have thought of amassing collection of Faberge objects; his creations were of the moment, pleasing indulgences. Faberge's fame rests on his achievement in creating the series of Imperial eggs - the result of an act of patronage on the grand scale by the Imperial family of Russia. The commission of Faberge as imperial warrant, supplier to the imperial court gave him the freedom to ignore questions of cost and time and to concentrate on the challenge of creating something new and spectacular each year, a challenge he met with outstanding success.

Faberge's fame rests on his achievement in creating the series of Imperial eggs - the result of an act of patronage on the grand scale by the Imperial family of Russia. The commission of Faberge as imperial warrant, supplier to the imperial court gave him the freedom to ignore questions of cost and time and to concentrate on the challenge of creating something new and spectacular each year, a challenge he met with outstanding success.

Peter Carl Faberge biography

Peter Carl Faberge (1846-1920) stands as a representative of a vanished age: the age of the Tsar and the fabulously rich imperial court in Russia. It was an age of empires and European monarchies that was brought to an end forever by the World War I (1914-1918). The production of luxury goods ceased completely in Russia as the war dragged on, ushering in decades of hardship and dramatic changes in the social system within which the imperial court had flourished. Today, long after the 1917 Revolution, the name Faberge conjures images of Russian imperial grandeur.

Carl Faberge was Russian-born of French lineage, his ancestors having left France in the late seventeenth century. His father, Gustav, was born in Pernau on the Baltic Sea and moved to St. Petersburg, where he opened a jewelry shop in 1842. In 1870, at the age of twenty-four, Carl took over his father's modest business and began to turn it into an establishment of international renown. His business came to be patronized by the Tsars and imperial court as well as other royal houses and aristocracy of Europe. He went from the production and sale of routine gold and silver jewelry, to an output of objects d'art, an almost limitless variety of accessories for the lady or gentleman.

Faberge relied on creative design and exquisite enameling for the success and appeal of his products, rather than on the carat weight of stones or the lavish gold settings that had been the opulent norm in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Faberge later conceived such objects de fantasy as carved hard stone animals and hard stone-and-gold flowers.

Beginning of Faberge legacy

Carl Faberge trained as a young man in Frankfurt am Main, apprenticed to the goldsmith and jeweler Friedman. In 1860, when Carl was fourteen years old, the Faberge family had moved to Dresden from St. Petersburg and it is quite likely that Carl had stayed behind for a time to be trained under his father's manager Hiskias Pendin. (Gustav Faberge had retired and left his shop in St. Petersburg under the supervision of Pendin.)

Carl returned to St. Petersburg in 1870 to take over the firm, and two years later he married Augusta Jacobs, daughter of a foreman at the Imperial Furniture Workshops. In 1882 he was joined in St. Petersburg by his twenty-year-old brother Agaphon, who was to make an important contribution to the firm as a jewelry designer.

Carl Faberge, the goldsmith and jeweler of St. Petersburg, was active at the end of an era that had begun with Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century. Peter built his city of St. Petersburg (renamed Petrograd in 1914 and then Leningrad in 1924) near the mouth of the river Neva on the Gulf of Finland as a "window to the West." Western architects such as Tressini and Rastrelli were instrumental in giving the city its European flavor. Built on marshy land and incorporating a series of canals, Peter's city came to be known as the "Venice of the North." During the eighteenth century the rulers of Russia continued the westernizing begun by Peter. The goldsmiths and silversmiths that came to St. Petersburg were frequently of foreign birth. From Germany, Finland, France, and Switzerland they came to satisfy the demands of the imperial court for silver candlesticks and Parisian-style gold snuff boxes.

Such European-born goldsmiths as Jean-Pierre Ador, J. Pauzie, and members of the Kolbe family worked in St. Petersburg during the latter part of the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, the well-known firm of Nicholls and Plincke specialized in high-quality table silver in the much admired English style; their establishment was known as the "English Shop." (One of the partners was English, in fact-namely, Charles Nicholls.) The firms of Sazikov (founded in 1793) and Ovchinnikov (founded in Moscow in 1853 and in St. Petersburg in 1873) produced silver ware more in the Russian national style.

Influence and inspiration of International art on Faberge

Faberge was inspired by the styles and design of eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century France, from rococo to Empire, but his imagination roamed far and wide and even drew from Japanese sources. Faberge acquired a substantial collection of netsuke, the small, carved- ivory toggles used in conjunction with a Japanese man's kimono sash. One can detect the strong Rococo influences upon the creations of Faberge's work master Michael Perchin in particular.

In understanding Faberge's turn-of-the-century Russia, the differences between Moscow and St. Petersburg should be borne in mind. St. Petersburg, the modern, Western-oriented city was the new capital of the empire and home to the imperial court. Moscow, with its ancient Kremlin and brilliant multicolored Russian architecture, was the old capital and seat of the aged traditions of Russian culture and art. Faberge branched out from St. Petersburg in 1887 to establish a shop in Moscow, where he produced work in the "Old Russian" style as well as large quantities of everyday table silver. The 1913 tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty gave rise to widespread production of pieces in the Old Russian style, which harkened back to seventeenth-century pre-Petrine Russia. Such objects frequently incorporated the State coat of arms, with its double-headed eagle, and thus took on a rather robust Russian flavor.

Faberge in St. Petersburg and Moscow

There was a difference in the organization of the St. Petersburg and Moscow establishments. In St. Petersburg, there were a number of discrete workshops, each headed by a separate master goldsmith or jeweler known as a work master. Faberge's Moscow branch was managed as a more or less unitary workshop. In St. Petersburg, there were more than twenty work masters whose marks can now be identified on products from the house of Faberge. The leading work master of the workshop overall, and the executor of the most important commissions, was the head work master. Michael Perchin was the head work master from 1886 until his death in 1903, when he was succeeded by his chief assistant Henrik Wigstrom. These two work masters were responsible for almost all the imperial Easter eggs. Erik Kollin, a Finn, was head work master from 1870 to 1886 and produced gold jewelry, including pieces in the Scythian style (the Scythian treasure had just been discovered at Kertch in the Crimea). Other work masters, also mostly Finns, were August Holmstrom who had been appointed head jeweler by Gustav Faberge in 1857 - Anders Nevalainen, Carl Gustav Hjalmar Armfelt, Johan Victor Aarne , Fodor Afanassiev, Andrei Gorianov, August Hollming, Karl Lundell, Anders Mickelson, Gabriel Niukkanen, Knut Oscar Pihl, Wilhelm Reimer, Philip Theodore Ringe, Eduard Schramm, Vladimir Soloviev, Alfred Thielemann, Stephan Wakeva and his son Alexander Wiikevii. Julius Rappoport was head silversmith.

Cloisonné enamels by Faberge

The cloisonné enamels sold by Faberge were almost all made by Fodor Ruckert, a Russian-born silversmith of German ancestry. He did not, however, supply Faberge exclusively. Some of his output was handled by other firms such as Ovchinnikov's. Ruckert worked in the Old Russian style, but with a delicacy surpassing that of almost all his contemporaries working in the cloisonné technique. Mention should also be made here of two work masters with the initials A.T., whose marks, or work, should not be confused. One was the Faberge work master Alfred Thielemann, referred to above, who produced small jewelry pieces. The other was Alexander Tillander, who worked for the firm of Hahn, producing larger objects in the style of Faberge. Note should also be made of the artels. These were cooperatives of jewelers and goldsmiths who marked their wares with their artel numbers (the 3rd Artel, for instance). There were more than thirty of these artels functioning during Faberge's time, and we know that Faberge commissioned work from the First Silver Artel. The Cyrillic mark lCA (lSA in Roman letters) stood for the First Silver, or Serebriannaya, Artel and is found in conjunction with Faberge's mark on large silver objects. Faberge himself did not spend his days behind a silversmith's bench. Rather, he was the guiding inspiration for the entire production. By best estimates, there were about five hundred persons employed by Faberge at the height of the firm's success in the early years of this century. There was, of course, a division of labor in the workshops between designers, enamellers, and so on. Many pieces were therefore a collaborative effort of many talented individuals.

Stone carving art by Faberge

Faberge had an association with Karl Vorfel's hard stone workshop, which later became part of the Faberge firm. This is where most of the carved hard stone figures, flowers, and animals were produced and where the hard stone carver Derbyshev worked. We also know that hard stone objects were commissioned by Faherge from the Imperial Hard stone Workshops in Peterhof. Faberge opened branches in Odessa in 1890 and in Kiev in 1905. There, some minor work was carried out, but the bases of production remained St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Faberge Imperial eggs

Faberge's fame rests on his achievement in creating the series of Imperial eggs - the result of an act of patronage on the grand scale by the Imperial family of Russia. The commission of Faberge as imperial warrant, supplier to the imperial court gave him the freedom to ignore questions of cost and time and to concentrate on the challenge of creating something new and spectacular each year, a challenge he met with outstanding success.

The origin of Faberge's greatest success and fame can be traced to the eggs he supplied to the Tsar each Easter as gifts for the Empress. This custom apparently originated in 1885 when the first egg was commissioned from Faberge by Tsar Alexander III for Empress Marie Feodorovna. He was so pleased by the result that henceforth Faberge was given orders for a similar egg each Easter. After the death of Alexander III in 1894, his son Nicholas II continued the custom. He now ordered two eggs each Easter, one for his mother the Empress and the other for the new Tsarina, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna. As symbols of creation and of new life, eggs have been exchanged at Easter, the central feast of both the Eastern and Western Christian churches, for hundreds of years. Throughout Europe natural eggs were colored and given as gifts. During the eighteenth century, the practice of creating eggs out of glass, porcelain, wood, papier-mache, and precious metals and jewels was begun.

First Imperial egg by Faberge.

Faberge would naturally have been acquainted with such eggs. According to tradition, the first Imperial egg, the Hen Egg, was ordered to remind the Empress Marie of home. She was born a Danish princess, daughter of Christian IX, and a very similar eighteenth-century hen egg was in the collection of the Danish royal family. Over the years the eggs became more elaborate as Faberge’s imagination (and resources) soared. Each egg contained a surprise. Between 1900 and 1911, six automaton eggs were produced (though not all were imperial commissions), the first being the imperial egg of the year 1900, the so-called Cuckoo Egg. In this egg the surprise is a singing bird which rises at the press of a button from the top of an egg-shaped gold, enameled, and jeweled table clock. Other surprises contained within these eggs ranged from miniatures of the imperial family (the Red Cross Egg with Portraits) to a model train in precious metals (the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg).

It would seem that a total of fifty-four such imperial Easter eggs were produced by Faberge of the king of Sweden and Norway. At the Paris Exposition International Universally of 1900, Faberge exhibited hors concourse (outside the competition) since he was a member of the jury. All the imperial eggs which Faberge had hitherto made, as well as many other objects d'art, were shown in Paris at this time. As a result he was elected into the Legion d'honneur and was made a master of the Paris Goldsmith's Guild. In 1903, Faberge opened a shop in London. This was done in the interest of better serving his English clientele, mainly the royal family and Edwardian high society. At first, an office was opened by Arthur Bowe from Moscow in Berners Hotel, then in 1906 a shop was opened which was managed by Nicholas Faberge , Faberge’s son, and Henry C. Bainbridge. In 1911, after some intermediate moves, premises were established at 173 New Bond Street, where business was apparently continued right up until the Revolution of 1917.

Leopold de Rothschild was a major customer of Faberge's in London. As a coronation gift to George V and Queen Mary, he ordered from Faberge a gold-mounted rock crystal vase engraved with the royal coat of arms. Henry Bainbridge has recounted how the gardener from the Rothschild house arrived on the morning of the coronation to collect the vase and fill it with flowers for delivery to Buckingham Palace. Leopold de Rothschild also bought quantities of objects from Faberge to give as gifts, including various pieces enameled in his racing colors of deep blue and yellow. Bainbridge reports that "except in rare cases I never remember the Edwardian ladies buying anything for themselves: they received their Faberge objects as gifts from men, and these gifts were purely for the psychological moment. When that had passed, i.e., the actual moment of the giving, they completed the mission for which they had been made."

In creating beautiful objects, Faberge did not rely on large jewels and lavish settings, but emphasized design. He regarded himself as an artist whose media were jewels, precious metals, and enamels. When queried on this subject, he distinguished his work from that of other firms such as Tiffany, Boucheron, and Cartier, whom he characterized as "mere merchants."

Faberge and Mir Iskusstva("World of Art")

Faherge was associated with Mir Iskusstva ("World of Art"), a movement founded in 1898. Members of Mir Iskusstva took particular interest in the applied arts, as well as in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian artistic movements. Prominent members of this association included Sergey Diaghilev, Alexander Benois, and Leon Bakst.

Faberge brought the art of enameling to technical perfection. The satisfaction of handling a flawlessly enameled, velvety smooth gold cigarette case, on whose invisible hinge the parts are perfectly aligned to snap tightly shut, was a pleasure shared by the last privileged classes of modern times. In the production of such a cigarette case Faberge was following in the tradition of the great French goldsmiths of the eighteenth century who concentrated their skills on the manufacture of gold snuff boxes to be presented as gifts by the king; the snuff box came to represent the pinnacle of the goldsmith's achievement during that period. Faberge, following a challenge by Tsar Alexander III, reproduced a French box in the collection of the Hermitage. It was reported that the Tsar was unable to distinguish the new from the old. Both boxes are now preserved in the collection of Forbes Magazine--the Paris snuff box by Joseph Etienne Blerzy and the Faberge box with the mark of workmaster Michael Perchin.

Collecting Faberge

The production of Faberge's objects de virtue was highly labor-intensive. For example, many hours of hand-buffing were required to give an enamel object a velvety finish. The technique of enameling is an extremely delicate one involving firing the enamel (a compound of glass and metal oxides) at very high temperatures well over 1000°F. Also, an enamel object that combined different colors was fired in the kiln more than once, at different temperatures for different colors. The pleasing effect of translucent enamels was obtained by engraving a design on metal using a machine known as a tour a guilloche, then enameling over this design in translucent colors. Using this turning device, a variety of patterns called guilloche patterns could be engraved, the most popular being sunburst and moiré designs. Faberge also perfected the challenging technique known as enameling en rondo bosse-that is, enameling on curved surfaces. An enameling technique which Faberge used only rarely is the champleve method. Using this technique the design is engraved in the metal and the enamel is used to fill the depressions to make a smooth, decorated finish. In a way, the champleve method is the opposite of the cloisonne method, in which wires are affixed to the surface of the metal to form compartments (cloisons) into which the enamel is poured.

Such carefully worked products were not inexpensive. A few years before the World War I, cording to the London sales ledgers, a silver cigarette case cost in the range of £7 to £20 ($34 to $97) and a gold cigarette case £63 to £120 ($306 to $584). In comparison, according to the Baedeker guide of the time, a room at Claridge's or dinner at the Ritz cost about ten shillings. Therefore, it can be seen that a Faberge gold cigarette case cost over one hundred times the price of an a la carte dinner at a top London restaurant or a room for the night at a five-star hotel. (It is interesting to note that current auction prices show today's ratio between Faberge and dinner to be comparable- about 100 to 1.)

Certain Faherge pieces can be documented through the London sales ledgers. For example, we know that on 30 November 1915, a gold and enameled cigarette case was purchased from Faberge in London by Lady Paget for the sum of £195. It was to be a gift to Lady Paget's close friend Queen Alexandra, widow of George V and sister of the Empress Marie Feodorovna. On 16 June 1988 it was again sold, this time at auction by Sotheby's in New York, for the astonishing sum of $154,000 (£86,000). The case is beautifully enameled using the champleve technique in the style of an early nineteenth-century Geneva snuff box. The base is engraved with the crowned monogram A for Alexandra within a border of diamonds.

In the closing years of the last century and the early years of this century, Faberge produced an almost endless array of objects de lux: clocks, bell pushes, cigarette cases, scent bottles, parasol handles, frames, fans, paper knives, gum pots, calendars, thermometers, and even silver-mounted furniture. Faberge did not limit himself to precious metals as a medium for his creativity. He felt free to use such materials as wood, steel, and sandstone, for example, and to choose those materials best suited to his purpose. Faberge's stone carvings of animals were distinguished for their appropriate use of the various available hard stones and for a certain "psychologically interpretive" quality given to them, an accentuation of a typical characteristic, as in a pig's happy, well-fed look, as opposed to a formal, anatomical study. The particular qualities of various hard stones were skillfully utilized to best correspond to the animal being carved: pink chalcedony for the pig, for example, or obsidian for a penguin.

Faberge and European Royalty

Faberge was invited by Edward VII to create models of the domestic animals at Sandringham. Artists were dispatched from Russia to undertake the task. They returned to S1. Petersburg with wax maquettes for the stonecutters to follow. The finished animals were then shipped to London for the king to approve and present to Queen Alexandra. She was, by all accounts, delighted. None of the queen's friends ever had to agonize over the question of selecting a gift for her: They needed only give her a creation by Faberge.

Among the rarest of Faberge's creations are the carved hard stone flowers, mounted in gold and placed in rock-crystal vases. Such flowers offered a reminder of summer during the long, dark S1. Petersburg winters. One of the most famous of these flower studies is the basket of lilies-of-the-valley presented to the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as a coronation gift from the "Iron-works management and dealers in the Siberian iron section of the Nijegorod Fair." It is now in the collection of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation in New Orleans.

Hallmarks by Faberge

Objects which were produced in precious metals by Faberge had to be "hallmarked" in accordance with the Russian State system of the time. As in other countries, this system existed, and still exists, to guarantee the fineness of the gold and silver being sold. (No marks existed for platinum at the turn of the century, for it was not highly regarded as a precious metal.) In general, for silver or gold objects produced in S1. Petersburg by Faberge, apart from the standard mark one can expect to find the work master’s initials and, on objects from before 1899, the town mark for St. Petersburg (crossed anchors, with a scepter between; that is, the city's coat of arms), the date combined with the assay-master's initials, and, possibly but not necessarily, the mark in Cyrillic of Faberge or K. Faberge. After 1899, instead of the date and town mark, simply the numerical standard for the fineness of the metal (such as 84; see below) combined with a woman's head in profile and either the assay-master's initials (1899-1908) or a Greek letter-code for the town (1908-1917) will be found. For Moscow before 1899 the town mark was the city's coat of arms, S1. George slaying the dragon; after 1899, the woman's head in profile was substituted (this was used throughout Russia after 1899). This mark of the woman's head is known as the kokoshnik mark, after the distinctive headdress worn by the woman. The maker's mark used by Faberge in Moscow was simply K.F. or K. Faberge in Cyrillic, combined with the imperial warrant mark, since there was no system of work master’s shops in Moscow. Pieces which were imported into England to be sold in London will be found with the maker's mark C.F. (for Carl Faberge) in Latin letters, as well as a set of import marks added by the British authorities.

Faberge was granted the imperial warrant, supplier to the imperial court, around 1885, presumably after delivery of the first Easter egg to Alexander III. The imperial warrant permitted Faberge to use the state coat of arms of a double-headed eagle in conjunction with his own mark (as well as in his advertising). Various other silversmiths and jewelers of the time, such as Ovchinnikov and Khlebnikov, also held the imperial warrant; therefore, the double-headed eagle mark is found in conjunction with their marks also.

The various standards of fineness for silver or gold used in imperial Russia were calculated in zolotniks, 96 zolotniks being pure. The most common silver standard, 84, can be translated as 84 parts pure silver out of 96 parts total alloy (87.5 percent). Similarly, with gold the most frequently found standard of 56 can be translated as 56 parts out of 96 parts total alloy. This gold standard is equivalent to the Western standard of 14 karat, 24 karat being pure gold. In 1910, Faberge instituted a suit against Goldsmith's Hall in London in an effort to avoid the necessity of hallmarking his delicate wares. The judgment, however, went against him, and he was thereafter obliged to import some pieces in an unfinished condition for hallmarking in London. Then they would be returned to St. Petersburg for completion. The sterling standard in use in England was 92.5 percent pure silver, so in order to comply with this requirement Faberge's objects intended for sale in England were henceforth made using the Russian 91 standard, which was even finer than sterling (91 parts pure silver out of 96 parts total alloy equals 94.79 percent).

A cursory glance at the hallmarks will not suffice these days for ascertaining the authenticity of a work purported to be from the house of Faberge. As when anything becomes sought after and collected, fakes will appear to trap the unwary. There are various categories of fakes. One category, for example, comprises old objects in the style of Faberge produced around 1900 in either Russia, Vienna, or Paris, now to be found with pseudo-Faberge marks. Faberge's style was widely copied during his lifetime, both in Russia and in Europe, but his competitors were unable to match the essential balance and lightness of his designs. At the other end of the spectrum are to be found brand-new pieces bearing new marks. Between these extremes are those objects which may be said to be only partly genuine-for example, a napkin ring that has been changed into a box by the addition of a bottom and a cover, or a buckle that has been converted into a brooch.

A cursory glance at the hallmarks will not suffice these days for ascertaining the authenticity of a work purported to be from the house of Faberge. As when anything becomes sought after and collected, fakes will appear to trap the unwary. There are various categories of fakes. One category, for example, comprises old objects in the style of Faberge produced around 1900 in either Russia, Vienna, or Paris, now to be found with pseudo-Faberge marks. Faberge's style was widely copied during his lifetime, both in Russia and in Europe, but his competitors were unable to match the essential balance and lightness of his designs. At the other end of the spectrum are to be found brand-new pieces bearing new marks. Between these extremes are those objects which may be said to be only partly genuine-for example, a napkin ring that has been changed into a box by the addition of a bottom and a cover, or a buckle that has been converted into a brooch.

Revolution and Faberge

When the Revolution came, Faberge's business in Russia ended and he left for Wiesbaden in Germany. In 1920, he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died on 24 September of that year. He had four sons, Eugene (1874-1960), Agaphon (1876-1951), Alexander (1877-1952), and Nicholas (1884-1939). All worked for the firm during their father's lifetime. In 1924, following their father's death, Eugene and Alexander Faberge opened a shop in Paris, where they carried on a moderately successful business under the name Faberge.

In the 1920s and 1930s, a substantial number of Faberge objects found their way to the West. Individuals such as Armand Hammer, Emanuel Snowman, and Alexander Schaffer brought Faberge pieces out of Russia. Also, the Soviet Union, in great need of hard currency, held an auction in Germany and thus dispersed a sizable quantity of works of art. In fact, the new Soviet authorities had no great affection for the creations of Carl Faberge, since he had been so closely associated with the last Tsars of imperial Russia. They were happy to use his creations as a source of income. Armand Hammer had gone to Russia in the early twenties and had begun trading with the new government. He had established a pencil factory there by the middle of the decade. When this business was appropriated by the government, he was allowed to take out antiques and works of art as compensation. He organized a traveling exhibition and sale at department stores in the United States from 1929 to 1933, starting at Scruggs Vandervoot in St. Louis, going to Marshall Field in Chicago, and ending at Lord and Taylor in New York. The traveling show was a big success in spite of the financial crash that began the Great Depression. At this time Lillian Thomas Pratt and Matilda Geddings Gray began what were to be their substantial Faberge collections.

The art and antique dealers Emanuel Snowman and Alexander Schaffer went to Russia to purchase items for their shops in London and New York. In this way, many imperial Easter eggs left Russia to be sold to Western collectors. In fact, the only imperial egg to leave Russia with its original owner was the Cross of St. George Egg, taken by the Empress Marie Feodorovna to Denmark, via England, in April 1919. It was sold in 1961 by her grandson, Prince Vasili Romanov, at Sotheby's in London for £11,000

Marjorie Merriweather Post also built a substantial collection of Faberge and Russian works of art in her lifetime, some pieces of which were acquired when she went to Russia with her third husband, Joseph E. Davies, in 1936. Davies had been appointed the United States ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Marjorie, heiress to the Post cereal fortune used the opportunity to acquire a wide variety of Russian antiques and art. Some of these objects, at the time, were being offered in bulk or by the weight of the precious metal in exchange for much-needed foreign currency. Having begun collecting in the late 1920s, Post was already familiar with Faberge and the wider field of Russian art by the time she went to Russia. The house she later built in Washington, D.C., is stocked with objects d'art, including two Faberge imperial eggs. Now known as the Hillwood Museum, it is open to the public. Another well-known American, the publisher Malcolm Forbes, has amassed a stunning collection of Faberge works, all purchased in the West. His first major acquisition was the Duchess of Marlborough Egg in 1965. Within the next twelve months he acquired over two dozen pieces from the collection of the late Landsdell K. Christie, and in the years since he has built a veritable Faberge museum.

Boxes and Cases

Boxes and cases were produced for a wide variety of purposes. There were cigar boxes to be kept on the table, as well as cigarette cases to be carried in the pocket. Compacts and visiting-card cases were also indispensable accessories. The most lavish boxes were made to be used as presentation pieces by the Czar and either carry his miniature portrait or bear his cipher in diamonds on the cover. These imperial presentation boxes follow in the tradition of the eighteenth-century French and German snuffboxes that were given by the sovereign as an expression of appreciation. Boxes did not need a specific utilitarian purpose in order to justify their existence. Handling a flawlessly made box of gold or silver is a source of great pleasure, possibly because of the apparently perfect enclosure of space by means of an invisible hinge and a tightly closing cover.

Eggs

Eggs as symbols of creation and new life have been exchanged at Easter for hundreds of years. Throughout Europe, natural eggs were colored and given as gifts. In the eighteenth century, the practice of creating eggs out of glass, porcelain, wood, papier-mâché, and precious metals and jewels was begun. The Russian goldsmiths and jewelers of the late nineteenth century mastered this art and created a variety of eggs in all sizes. Miniature eggs about half an inch long were made to be worn on a necklace and are found in an extraordinary variety of enameled colors and designs, frequently set with precious stones. Larger eggs, the size of chicken's eggs, were exquisitely enameled with flowers and foliage. Produced mainly by the Moscow gold- and silversmiths, such as Khlebnikov, Ovchinnikov, and Ruckert, some of these eggs were fitted with small stands which screwed out from the interiors to enable each half of the egg to be converted into an egg cup. Others were made to enclose icons. The Easter eggs which Faberge produced for the Czars were highly imaginative and ranged from the rather simple first imperial Easter egg to the complex creations of later years, such as the Orange Tree Egg of 1911.

Flowers and Stone Curving

The tradition of the gold and carved hard stone flowers by Faberge and others can be traced back at least to the eighteenth century. In the mid-eighteenth century, flowers were produced by Jeremie Pauzie, who then was working in the context of a broad European fashion for such flowers (these are now in the Hermitage). Faberge also followed in this tradition in his production of such flowers. The magnificent basket of lilies-of-the-valley that was a gift to the Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna is one of Faberge's best known works and possibly the earliest flower group created by him. Faberge was no doubt inspired by the hard stone carvings preserved in the Crunes Gewolbe (Green Vaults) in Dresden. As a young man he had also visited the Opificio delle Pierre Dure in Florence, the hard stone cutting and carving workshop founded by the Medicis. Faberge's hard stone carvings of animals are distinguished not only for a most appropriate use of hard stone-for example, the use of pearly-black obsidian for a penguin or milky-pink chalcedony for a pig-but also for the injection of "character." There was a certain "psychologically interpretive" aspect to Faberge's animals: an accentuation of a typical characteristic, such as in a happy, well-fed pig. The hard stone human figures created by Faberge utilized various materials seamlessly joined together to form the completed composition. These figures are reminiscent of the porcelain figures produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Imperial Porcelain Factory and by the Gardner, Popov, and other private porcelain factories.

Frames and Clocks

Most frequently, frames and clocks were produced in the neo-classical Louis XVI or Empire styles, and less frequently in the neo-rococo manner. Often rather severe forms were used (for example, circular or rectangular), and the attractive result was attained purely by the expert enameling of the patterned surfaces in translucent colors.

Imperial desks, in addition to accommodating a Faberge clock, were laden with photographs of imperial relatives, mostly contained within enameled or jeweled frames of silver or gold. The fire- screen frame, now in the Forbes collection, demonstrates the highway accomplished use of vary-colored gold. Red, yellow, green, and white gold were used in the applied foliate swags to produce a lavish effect. The different shades were achieved by mixing pure gold with other metals such as copper, for red gold and silver, for white. Pure gold is in any case too soft to be used without the addition of a hardening metal.

Imperial desks, in addition to accommodating a Faberge clock, were laden with photographs of imperial relatives, mostly contained within enameled or jeweled frames of silver or gold. The fire- screen frame, now in the Forbes collection, demonstrates the highway accomplished use of vary-colored gold. Red, yellow, green, and white gold were used in the applied foliate swags to produce a lavish effect. The different shades were achieved by mixing pure gold with other metals such as copper, for red gold and silver, for white. Pure gold is in any case too soft to be used without the addition of a hardening metal.

Gold and Silver in St. Petersburg

The age-old orientation of S1. Petersburg toward Western European culture and art persisted up to the early years of the twentieth century. St. Petersburg collections possessed far more examples of art-including decorative applied art-from Western Europe than from Russia; this was true of the Hermitage, Baron Stieglitz's museums, the Academy of Arts, and the collection of the Society for the

Advancement of the Arts. Furthermore, international art exhibitions were held there much more often than were Russian art exhibitions. It was in S1. Petersburg that the artists' association Mir Iskusstva- The World of Art-arose, with its pronounced retrospective leanings and its aspiration to "Europeanize” Russian culture. In gold and silver work these tendencies were linked to a tradition dating back to the era of Peter I, when collaboration with artists from other countries had been encouraged. There were now outstanding artisans from Europe working in S1. Petersburg: Henrik Wigstrom, August Hollming, Stephan Wiikevii, Erik Kollin, Carl Hahn, and Frederick Kochli, Many works produced by Faberge, Hahn, Tillander, Britzin, and the 3rd Artel bear a strong affinity to those made in Western Europe, especially to those of Cartier.

St. Petersburg gold- and silversmiths believed that historicism was important to their art, although many of them also responded to Russia's desire for national forms. These forms are to be found on a vase with sculptured portrayals of peasant children reaping (by Nicholls and Plincke}, desk sets with themes from peasant life, an inkwell made to look like a driver on a horse-drawn sleigh (D. Smirnov), and glass holders in the shape of a log cabin or a fence (G. Weisenbaum and V. Viktorov). During this period Faberge, Hahn, Britzin, and Kochli chiefly produced articles in the Western European style, rarely in the Russian style or in style modern, H we compare the Russian style in Moscow with that in S1. Petersburg, we find the latter more subdued in form and coloring. In St. Petersburg a historical-archaeological approach to ornamentation prevailed, and very few articles were made in the neo-Russian style. The artisans preferred not to coat the entire object with a design in enamel, but rather to preserve the smoothness of the metal and decorate it with an ornamental band or a cartouche, which created an appearance at once more austere and more elegant.

The world-famous firm of Faberge stood far above the others, not only in Russia, but in all of Europe. Based in St. Petersburg, the firm produced an extraordinary variety of articles, among them jewelry, boxes, clocks, dishes, sculpture, and toilet articles and other objects for daily use. It won renown for the valuable Easter eggs it produced: They were exceptionally skillfully made and striking in their imaginativeness, in the wide variety of methods used to make them, and in the color range of the precious stones and enamels. They are justly considered masterpieces.

Faberge achieved its preeminent position in the art world due to the diverse ornamental motifs it used, its exceptionally profound knowledge and feeling for materials and their decorative possibilities, and a deep understanding of forms and the ways to express them with a broad range of jewelry materials. Faberge gathered all his most skillful artisans in the four-story building on Bolshaya Morskaya Street, which at the same time housed his family, a store, a large library, and a studio for the artists and modelers. More than twenty artists worked permanently in the studio, and Carl invited Benois, Schechtel, and Shishkin, very well-known artists, to work with him.

In 1890 Faberge decided to expand the firm's activities by opening a new branch under Allan Gibson in Odessa (1890-1918). Twenty-five artisans worked there, among them Gabriel Niukkanen and Gustav Lundell. In 1905 a branch in Kiev with ten artisans was opened under V. Drugov but it lasted only about five years, after which it was amalgamated with the Odessa branch under Drugov. In 1903 the first foreign branch was opened in London (1903-1915) under Arthur Bowe; in 1906 its management fell to Carl's son Nicholas and H. C. Bainbridge.

Religious Objects - Icons

Following the fall of Constantinople, the center of Christian Orthodoxy moved to Russia, and for hundreds of years of Russian history the state was inseparably linked with the Christian Church. The Russian goldsmiths made liturgical plate for the altar as well as covers for icons. The tradition of commissioning silver or gold and jeweled oklads, or covers, for revered icons dates back centuries. In 1657, Patriarch Nikon ordered a gold oklad for the twelfth-century icon of the Vladimir Mother of God, the palladium of the Russian state. By the nineteenth century, icons and their covers of silver were being produced contemporaneously. Chalices of silver or gold were applied with enameled plaques of the Saviour and the Mother of God, and similar enamels are to be found on bishops' mitres.

Table Ornaments

Throughout the centuries in Russia, as in Europe, the display of silver has always been an indicator of the wealth of a household. Silver tea sets of heavy gauge silver, richly gilded or sumptuously enameled, could be displayed to great advantage on the sideboard of a rich Moscow merchant. A samovar, necessary for supplying hot water for tea, could be found in every household. Most families owned samovars of base metal such as pewter or brass, but samovars of silver were owned by the wealthy.

One of the most popular forms upon which the goldsmiths and enamellers lavished their talents was the kovsh. The kovsh is a peculiarly Russian object that can be traced back in origin to the sixteenth century when it was made of wood and took the more distinguishable form of a bird. It was originally used as a dipper, but came to be used by the Tsar or Tsarina, when it was made of silver as a presentation object, much in the same way that snuffboxes were used as presentation pieces in eighteenth-century France. These imperial presentation kovshes were chased with the cipher of the reigning emperor or empress as well as with the imperial eagle. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, the kovsh had become lavishly enameled and a showpiece par excellence.

The cloisonné enamels sold by Faberge were ahnost all made by Fodor Ruckert, a Russian-born silversmith of German ancestry. He did not, however, supply Faberge exclusively. Some of his output was handled by other firms such as Ovchinnikov's. Ruckert worked in the Old Russian style, but with a delicacy surpassing that of almost all his contemporaries working in the cloisonné technique. Mention should also be made here of two work masters with the initials A.T., whose marks, or work, should not be confused. One was the Faberge work master Alfred Thielemann, referred to above, who produced small jewelry pieces. The other was Alexander Tillander, who worked for the firm of Hahn, producing larger objects in the style of Faberge. Note should also be made of the artels. These were cooperatives of jewelers and goldsmiths who marked their wares with their artel numbers (the 3rd Artel, for instance). There were more than thirty of these artels functioning during Faberge's time, and we know that Faberge commissioned work from the First Silver Artel. The Cyrillic mark lCA (lSA in Roman letters) stood for the First Silver, or Serebriannaya, Artel and is found in conjunction with Faberge's mark on large silver objects. Faberge himself did not spend his days behind a silversmith's bench. Rather, he was the guiding inspiration for the entire production. By best estimates, there were about five hundred persons employed by Faberge at the height of the firm's success in the early years of this century. There was, of course, a division of labor in the workshops between designers, enamellers, and so on. Many pieces were therefore a collaborative effort of many talented individuals.

Faberge had an association with Karl Vorfel's hard stone workshop, which later became part of the Faberge firm. This is where most of the carved hard stone figures, flowers, and animals were produced and where the hard stone carver Derbyshev worked. We also know that hard stone objects were commissioned by Faherge from the Imperial Hard stone Workshops in Peterhof. Faberge opened branches in Odessa in 1890 and in Kiev in 1905. There, some minor work was carried out, but the bases of production remained St. Petersburg and Moscow.

The origin of Faberge's greatest success and fame can be traced to the eggs he supplied to the Tsar each Easter as gifts for the Empress. This custom apparently originated in 1885 when the first egg was commissioned from Faberge by Tsar Alexander III for Empress Marie Feodorovna. He was so pleased by the result that henceforth Faberge was given orders for a similar egg each Easter. After the death of Alexander III in 1894, his son Nicholas II continued the custom. He now ordered two eggs each Easter, one for his mother the Empress and the other for the new Tsarina, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna. As symbols of creation and of new life, eggs have been exchanged at Easter, the central feast of both the Eastern and Western Christian churches, for hundreds of years. Throughout Europe natural eggs were colored and given as gifts. During the eighteenth century, the practice of creating eggs out of glass, porcelain, wood, papier-mache, and precious metals and jewels was begun.

Faberge would naturally have been acquainted with such eggs. According to tradition, the first imperial egg, the Hen Egg, was ordered to remind the Empress Marie of home. She was born a Danish princess, daughter of Christian IX, and a very similar eighteenth-century hen egg was in the collection of the Danish royal family. Over the years the eggs became more elaborate as Faberge’s imagination (and resources) soared. Each egg contained a surprise. Between 1900 and 1911, six automaton eggs were produced (though not all were imperial commissions), the first being the imperial egg of the year 1900, the so-called Cuckoo Egg. In this egg the surprise is a singing bird which rises at the press of a button from the top of an egg-shaped gold, enameled, and jeweled table clock. Other surprises contained within these eggs ranged from miniatures of the imperial family (the Red Cross Egg with Portraits) to a model train in precious metals (the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg).

It would seem that a total of fifty-four such imperial Easter eggs were produced by Faberge of the king of Sweden and Norway. At the Paris Exposition International Universally of 1900, Faberge exhibited hors concourse (outside the competition) since he was a member of the jury. All the imperial eggs which Faberge had hitherto made, as well as many other objects d'art, were shown in Paris at this time. As a result he was elected into the Legion d'honneur and was made a master of the Paris Goldsmith's Guild. In 1903, Faberge opened a shop in London. This was done in the interest of better serving his English clientele, mainly the royal family and Edwardian high society. At first, an office was opened by Arthur Bowe from Moscow in Berners Hotel, then in 1906 a shop was opened which was managed by Nicholas Faberge , Faberge’s son, and Henry C. Bainbridge. In 1911, after some intermediate moves, premises were established at 173 New Bond Street, where business was apparently continued right up until the Revolution of 1917.

Leopold de Rothschild was a major customer of Faberge's in London. As a coronation gift to George V and Queen Mary, he ordered from Faberge a gold-mounted rock crystal vase engraved with the royal coat of arms. Henry Bainbridge has recounted how the gardener from the Rothschild house arrived on the morning of the coronation to collect the vase and fill it with flowers for delivery to Buckingham Palace. Leopold de Rothschild also bought quantities of objects from Faberge to give as gifts, including various pieces enameled in his racing colors of deep blue and yellow. Bainbridge reports that "except in rare cases I never remember the Edwardian ladies buying anything for themselves: they received their Faberge objects as gifts from men, and these gifts were purely for the psychological moment. When that had passed, i.e., the actual moment of the giving, they completed the mission for which they had been made."

In creating beautiful objects, Faberge did not rely on large jewels and lavish settings, but emphasized design. He regarded himself as an artist whose media were jewels, precious metals, and enamels. When queried on this subject, he distinguished his work from that of other firms such as Tiffany, Boucheron, and Cartier, whom he characterized as "mere merchants."

Faherge was associated with Mir Iskusstva ("World of Art"), a movement founded in 1898. Members of Mir Iskusstva took particular interest in the applied arts, as well as in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian artistic movements. Prominent members of this association included Sergei Diaghilev, Alexander Benois, and Leon Bakst.

Faherge brought the art of enameling to technical perfection. The satisfaction of handling a flawlessly enameled, velvety smooth gold cigarette case, on whose invisible hinge the parts are perfectly aligned to snap tightly shut, was a pleasure shared by the last privileged classes of modern times. In the production of such a cigarette case Faberge was following in the tradition of the great French goldsmiths of the eighteenth century who concentrated their skills on the manufacture of gold snuff boxes to be presented as gifts by the king; the snuff box came to represent the pinnacle of the goldsmith's achievement during that period. Faberge, following a challenge by Tsar Alexander III, reproduced a French box in the collection of the Hermitage. It was reported that the Tsar was unable to distinguish the new from the old. Both boxes are now preserved in the collection of Forbes Magazine--the Paris snuff box by Joseph Etienne Blerzy and the Faberge box with the mark of work master Michael Perchin.

The production of Faberge's objects de virtue was highly labor-intensive. For example, many hours of hand-buffing were required to give an enamel object a velvety finish. The technique of enameling is an extremely delicate one involving firing the enamel (a compound of glass and metal oxides) at very high temperatures well over 1000°F. Also, an enamel object that combined different colors was fired in the kiln more than once, at different temperatures for different colors. The pleasing effect of translucent enamels was obtained by engraving a design on metal using a machine known as a tour a guilloche, then enameling over this design in translucent colors. Using this turning device, a variety of patterns called guilloche patterns could be engraved, the most popular being sunburst and moiré designs. Faberge also perfected the challenging technique known as enameling en rondo bosse-that is, enameling on curved surfaces. An enameling technique which Faberge used only rarely is the champleve method. Using this technique the design is engraved in the metal and the enamel is used to fill the depressions to make a smooth, decorated finish. In a way, the champleve method is the opposite of the cloisonne method, in which wires are affixed to the surface of the metal to form compartments (cloisons) into which the enamel is poured.

Such carefully worked products were not inexpensive. A few years before the World War I, cording to the London sales ledgers, a silver cigarette case cost in the range of £7 to £20 ($34 to $97) and a gold cigarette case £63 to £120 ($306 to $584). In comparison, according to the Baedeker guide of the time, a room at Claridge's or dinner at the Ritz cost about ten shillings. Therefore, it can be seen that a Faberge gold cigarette case cost over one hundred times the price of an a la carte dinner at a top London restaurant or a room for the night at a five-star hotel. (It is interesting to note that current auction prices show today's ratio between Faberge and dinner to be comparable- about 100 to 1.)

Certain Faherge pieces can be documented through the London sales ledgers. For example, we know that on 30 November 1915, a gold and enameled cigarette case was purchased from Faberge in London by Lady Paget for the sum of £195. It was to be a gift to Lady Paget's close friend Queen Alexandra, widow of George V and sister of the Empress Marie Feodorovna. On 16 June 1988 it was again sold, this time at auction by Sotheby's in New York, for the astonishing sum of $154,000 (£86,000). The case is beautifully enameled using the champleve technique in the style of an early nineteenth-century Geneva snuff box. The base is engraved with the crowned monogram A for Alexandra within a border of diamonds.

In the closing years of the last century and the early years of this century, Faberge produced an almost endless array of objects de lux: clocks, bell pushes, cigarette cases, scent bottles, parasol handles, frames, fans, paper knives, gum pots, calendars, thermometers, and even silver-mounted furniture. Faberge did not limit himself to precious metals as a medium for his creativity. He felt free to use such materials as wood, steel, and sandstone, for example, and to choose those materials best suited to his purpose. Faberge's stone carvings of animals were distinguished for their appropriate use of the various available hard stones and for a certain "psychologically interpretive" quality given to them, an accentuation of a typical characteristic, as in a pig's happy, well-fed look, as opposed to a formal, anatomical study. The particular qualities of various hard stones were skillfully utilized to best correspond to the animal being carved: pink chalcedony for the pig, for example, or obsidian for a penguin.

Faberge was invited by Edward VII to create models of the domestic animals at Sandringham. Artists were dispatched from Russia to undertake the task. They returned to S1. Petersburg with wax maquettes for the stonecutters to follow. The finished animals were then shipped to London for the king to approve and present to Queen Alexandra. She was, by all accounts, delighted. None of the queen's friends ever had to agonize over the question of selecting a gift for her: They needed only give her a creation by Faberge.

Among the rarest of Faberge's creations are the carved hard stone flowers, mounted in gold and placed in rock-crystal vases. Such flowers offered a reminder of summer during the long, dark S1. Petersburg winters. One of the most famous of these flower studies is the basket of lilies-of-the-valley presented to the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as a coronation gift from the "Iron-works management and dealers in the Siberian iron section of the Nijegorod Fair." It is now in the collection of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation in New Orleans.

Objects which were produced in precious metals by Faberge had to be "hallmarked" in accordance with the Russian State system of the time. As in other countries, this system existed, and still exists, to guarantee the fineness of the gold and silver being sold. (No marks existed for platinum at the turn of the century, for it was not highly regarded as a precious metal.) In general, for silver or gold objects produced in S1. Petersburg by Faberge, apart from the standard mark one can expect to find the work master’s initials and, on objects from before 1899, the town mark for St. Petersburg (crossed anchors, with a scepter between; that is, the city's coat of arms), the date combined with the assay-master's initials, and, possibly but not necessarily, the mark in Cyrillic of Faberge or K. Faberge. After 1899, instead of the date and town mark, simply the numerical standard for the fineness of the metal (such as 84; see below) combined with a woman's head in profile and either the assay-master's initials (1899-1908) or a Greek letter-code for the town (1908-1917) will be found. For Moscow before 1899 the town mark was the city's coat of arms, S1. George slaying the dragon; after 1899, the woman's head in profile was substituted (this was used throughout Russia after 1899). This mark of the woman's head is known as the kokoshnik mark, after the distinctive headdress worn by the woman. The maker's mark used by Faberge in Moscow was simply K.F. or K. Faberge in Cyrillic, combined with the imperial warrant mark, since there was no system of work master’s shops in Moscow. Pieces which were imported into England to be sold in London will be found with the maker's mark C.F. (for Carl Faberge) in Latin letters, as well as a set of import marks added by the British authorities.

Faberge was granted the imperial warrant, supplier to the imperial court, around 1885, presumably after delivery of the first Easter egg to Alexander III. The imperial warrant permitted Faberge to use the state coat of arms of a double-headed eagle in conjunction with his own mark (as well as in his advertising). Various other silversmiths and jewelers of the time, such as Ovchinnikov and Khlebnikov, also held the imperial warrant; therefore, the double-headed eagle mark is found in conjunction with their marks also.

The various standards of fineness for silver or gold used in imperial Russia were calculated in zolotniks, 96 zolotniks being pure. The most common silver standard, 84, can be translated as 84 parts pure silver out of 96 parts total alloy (87.5 percent). Similarly, with gold the most frequently found standard of 56 can be translated as 56 parts out of 96 parts total alloy. This gold standard is equivalent to the Western standard of 14 karat, 24 karat being pure gold. In 1910, Faberge instituted a suit against Goldsmith's Hall in London in an effort to avoid the necessity of hallmarking his delicate wares. The judgment, however, went against him, and he was thereafter obliged to import some pieces in an unfinished condition for hallmarking in London. Then they would be returned to St. Petersburg for completion. The sterling standard in use in England was 92.5 percent pure silver, so in order to comply with this requirement Faberge's objects intended for sale in England were henceforth made using the Russian 91 standard, which was even finer than sterling (91 parts pure silver out of 96 parts total alloy equals 94.79 percent).

A cursory glance at the hallmarks will not suffice these days for ascertaining the authenticity of a work purported to be from the house of Faberge. As when anything becomes sought after and collected, fakes will appear to trap the unwary. There are various categories of fakes. One category, for example, comprises old objects in the style of Faberge produced around 1900 in either Russia, Vienna, or Paris, now to be found with pseudo-Faberge marks. Faberge's style was widely copied during his lifetime, both in Russia and in Europe, but his competitors were unable to match the essential balance and lightness of his designs. At the other end of the spectrum are to be found brand-new pieces bearing new marks. Between these extremes are those objects which may be said to be only partly genuine-for example, a napkin ring that has been changed into a box by the addition of a bottom and a cover, or a buckle that has been converted into a brooch.

A beginning collector would be well advised to make a comparative study of the field of Russian and European silver- and goldsmith. One should be confident of deciding on the authenticity of an object based on the quality of the enameling, the style of chasing, and so on, before looking at the mark. The maker's mark should in that case serve merely to corroborate that opinion. If, on the other hand, the judgment is that the piece is not genuine Faberge, a suspicious-looking shallow or shaky mark will serve to reinforce that opinion.

When the Revolution came, Faberge's business in Russia ended and he left for Wiesbaden in Germany. In 1920, he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died on 24 September of that year. He had four sons, Eugene (1874-1960), Agaphon (1876-1951), Alexander (1877-1952), and Nicholas (1884-1939). All worked for the firm during their father's lifetime. In 1924, following their father's death, Eugene and Alexander Faberge opened a shop in Paris, where they carried on a moderately successful business under the name Faberge et Cie.

In the 1920s and 1930s, a substantial number of Faberge objects found their way to the West. Individuals such as Armand Hammer, Emanuel Snowman, and Alexander Schaffer brought Faberge pieces out of Russia. Also, the Soviet Union, in great need of hard currency, held an auction in Germany and thus dispersed a sizable quantity of works of art. In fact, the new Soviet authorities had no great affection for the creations of Carl Faberge, since he had been so closely associated with the last Tsars of imperial Russia. They were happy to use his creations as a source of income. Armand Hammer had gone to Russia in the early twenties and had begun trading with the new government. He had established a pencil factory there by the middle of the decade. When this business was appropriated by the government, he was allowed to take out antiques and works of art as compensation. He organized a traveling exhibition and sale at department stores in the United States from 1929 to 1933, starting at Scruggs Vandervoot in St. Louis, going to Marshall Field in Chicago, and ending at Lord and Taylor in New York. The traveling show was a big success in spite of the financial crash that began the Great Depression. At this time Lillian Thomas Pratt and Matilda Geddings Gray began what were to be their substantial Faberge collections.

The art and antique dealers Emanuel Snowman and Alexander Schaffer went to Russia to purchase items for their shops in London and New York. In this way, many imperial Easter eggs left Russia to be sold to Western collectors. In fact, the only imperial egg to leave Russia with its original owner was the Cross of St. George Egg, taken by the Empress Marie Feodorovna to Denmark, via England, in April 1919. It was sold in 1961 by her grandson, Prince Vasili Romanov, at Sotheby's in London for £11,000.

Marjorie Merriweather Post also built a substantial collection of Faberge and Russian works of art in her lifetime, some pieces of which were acquired when she went to Russia with her third husband, Joseph E. Davies, in 1936. Davies had been appointed the United States ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Marjorie, heiress to the Post cereal fortune, used the opportunity to acquire a wide variety of Russian antiques and art. Some of these objects, at the time, were being offered in bulk or by the weight of the precious metal in exchange for much-needed foreign currency. Having begun collecting in the late 1920s, Post was already familiar with Faberge and the wider field of Russian art by the time she went to Russia. The house she later built in Washington, D.C., is stocked with objects d'art, including two Faberge imperial eggs. Now known as the Hillwood Museum, it is open to the public. Another well-known American, the publisher Malcolm Forbes, has amassed a stunning collection of Faberge works, all purchased in the West. His first major acquisition was the Duchess of Marlborough Egg in 1965. Within the next twelve months he acquired over two dozen pieces from the collection of the late Landsdell K. Christie, and in the years since he has built a veritable Faberge museum.

Boxes and Cases

Boxes and cases were produced for a wide variety of purposes. There were cigar boxes to be kept on the table, as well as cigarette cases to be carried in the pocket. Compacts and visiting-card cases were also indispensable accessories. The most lavish boxes were made to be used as presentation pieces by the Czar and either carry his miniature portrait or bear his cipher in diamonds on the cover. These imperial presentation boxes follow in the tradition of the eighteenth-century French and German snuffboxes that were given by the sovereign as an expression of appreciation. Boxes did not need a specific utilitarian purpose in order to justify their existence. Handling a flawlessly made box of gold or silver is a source of great pleasure, possibly because of the apparently perfect enclosure of space by means of an invisible hinge and a tightly closing cover.

Eggs

Eggs as symbols of creation and new life have been exchanged at Easter for hundreds of years. Throughout Europe, natural eggs were colored and given as gifts. In the eighteenth century, the practice of creating eggs out of glass, porcelain, wood, papier-mache, and precious metals and jewels was begun. The Russian goldsmiths and jewelers of the late nineteenth century mastered this art and created a variety of eggs in all sizes. Miniature eggs about half an inch long were made to be worn on a necklace and are found in an extraordinary variety of enameled colors and designs, frequently set with precious stones. Larger eggs, the size of chicken's eggs, were exquisitely enameled with flowers and foliage. Produced mainly by the Moscow gold- and silversmiths, such as Khlebnikov, Ovchinnikov, and Ruckert, some of these eggs were fitted with small stands which screwed out from the interiors to enable each half of the egg to be converted into an egg cup. Others were made to enclose icons. The Easter eggs which Faberge produced for the Czars were highly imaginative and ranged from the rather simple first imperial Easter egg to the complex creations of later years, such as the Orange Tree Egg of 1911.

Flowers and Stone Curving

The tradition of the gold and carved hard stone flowers by Faberge and others can be traced back at least to the eighteenth century. In the mid-eighteenth century, flowers were produced by Jeremie Pauzie, who then was working in the context of a broad European fashion for such flowers (these are now in the Hermitage). Faberge also followed in this tradition in his production of such flowers. The magnificent basket of lilies-of-the-valley that was a gift to the Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna is one of Faberge's best known works and possibly the earliest flower group created by him. Faberge was no doubt inspired by the hard stone carvings preserved in the Crunes Gewolbe (Green Vaults) in Dresden. As a young man he had also visited the Opificio delle Pierre Dure in Florence, the hard stone cutting and carving workshop founded by the Medicis. Faberge's hard stone carvings of animals are distinguished not only for a most appropriate use of hard stone-for example, the use of pearly-black obsidian for a penguin or milky-pink chalcedony for a pig-but also for the injection of "character." There was a certain "psychologically interpretive" aspect to Faberge's animals: an accentuation of a typical characteristic, such as in a happy, well-fed pig. The hard stone human figures created by Faberge utilized various materials seamlessly joined together to form the completed composition. These figures are reminiscent of the porcelain figures produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Imperial Porcelain Factory and by the Gardner, Popov, and other private porcelain factories.

Frames and Clocks

Most frequently, frames and clocks were produced in the neo-classical Louis XVI or Empire styles, and less frequently in the neo-rococo manner. Often rather severe forms were used (for example, circular or rectangular), and the attractive result was attained purely by the expert enameling of the patterned surfaces in translucent colors.

Imperial desks, in addition to accommodating a Faberge clock, were laden with photographs of Imperial relatives mostly contained within enameled or jeweled frames of silver or gold. The fire- screen frame, now in the Forbes collection, demonstrates the highway accomplished use of vary-colored gold. Red, yellow, green, and white gold were used in the applied foliate swags to produce a lavish effect. The different shades were achieved by mixing pure gold with other metals such as copper, for red gold and silver, for white. Pure gold is in any case too soft to be used without the addition of a hardening metal.

Clocks were among the rarest of the goldsmith's productions. Some display a highway skilled execution of a whimsical and imaginative idea, such as the "man in the moon clock." Hard stones were also used to great effect. Nephrite was the stone most often chosen, although a simple cube- form clock of lapis-lazuli was perhaps one of Faberge's most elegant creations. The movements were supplied from Switzerland by the firm of Henry Moser & Cie. Some imperial Easter eggs also took the form of clocks-as, for example, the Cuckoo Egg. At least one clock was made in the form of a miniature table.

Gold and Silver in St. Petersburg

The age-old orientation of S1. Petersburg toward Western European culture and art persisted up to the early years of the twentieth century. St. Petersburg collections possessed far more examples of art-including decorative applied art-from Western Europe than from Russia; this was true of the Hermitage, Baron Stieglitz's museums, the Academy of Arts, and the collection of the Society for the

Advancement of the Arts. Furthermore, international art exhibitions were held there much more often than were Russian art exhibitions. It was in S1. Petersburg that the artists' association Mir Iskusstva- The World of Art-arose, with its pronounced retrospective leanings and its aspiration to "Europeanize” Russian culture. In gold and silver work these tendencies were linked to a tradition dating back to the era of Peter I, when collaboration with artists from other countries had been encouraged. There were now outstanding artisans from Europe working in S1. Petersburg: Henrik Wigstrom, August Hollming, Stephan Wiikevii, Erik Kollin, Carl Hahn, and Frederick Kochli, Many works produced by Faberge, Hahn, Tillander, Britzin, and the 3rd Artel bear a strong affinity to those made in Western Europe, especially to those of Cartier.

St. Petersburg gold- and silversmiths believed that historicism was important to their art, although many of them also responded to Russia's desire for national forms. These forms are to be found on a vase with sculptured portrayals of peasant children reaping (by Nicholls and Plincke}, desk sets with themes from peasant life, an inkwell made to look like a driver on a horse-drawn sleigh (D. Smirnov), and glass holders in the shape of a log cabin or a fence (G. Weisenbaum and V. Viktorov). During this period Faberge, Hahn, Britzin, and Kochli chiefly produced articles in the Western European style, rarely in the Russian style or in style modern, H we compare the Russian style in Moscow with that in S1. Petersburg, we find the latter more subdued in form and coloring. In St. Petersburg a historical-archaeological approach to ornamentation prevailed, and very few articles were made in the neo-Russian style. The artisans preferred not to coat the entire object with a design in enamel, but rather to preserve the smoothness of the metal and decorate it with an ornamental band or a cartouche, which created an appearance at once more austere and more elegant.

The world-famous firm of Faberge stood far above the others, not only in Russia, but in all of Europe. Based in St. Petersburg, the firm produced an extraordinary variety of articles, among them jewelry, boxes, clocks, dishes, sculpture, and toilet articles and other objects for daily use. It won renown for the valuable Easter eggs it produced: They were exceptionally skillfully made and striking in their imaginativeness, in the wide variety of methods used to make them, and in the color range of the precious stones and enamels. They are justly considered masterpieces.

Faberge achieved its preeminent position in the art world due to the diverse ornamental motifs it used, its exceptionally profound knowledge and feeling for materials and their decorative possibilities, and a deep understanding of forms and the ways to express them with a broad range of jewelry materials. Faberge gathered all his most skillful artisans in the four-story building on Bolshaya Morskaya Street, which at the same time housed his family, a store, a large library, and a studio for the artists and modelers. More than twenty artists worked permanently in the studio, and Carl invited Benois, Schechtel, and Shishkin, very well-known artists, to work with him.

In 1890 Faberge decided to expand the firm's activities by opening a new branch under Allan Gibson in Odessa (1890-1918). Twenty-five artisans worked there, among them Gabriel Niukkanen and Gustav Lundell. In 1905 a branch in Kiev with ten artisans was opened under V. Drugov but it lasted only about five years, after which it was amalgamated with the Odessa branch under Drugov. In 1903 the first foreign branch was opened in London (1903-1915) under Arthur Bowe; in 1906 its management fell to Carl's son Nicholas and H. C. Bainbridge.

Religious Objects - Icons

Following the fall of Constantinople, the center of Christian Orthodoxy moved to Russia, and for hundreds of years of Russian history the state was inseparably linked with the Christian Church. The Russian goldsmiths made liturgical plate for the altar as well as covers for icons. The tradition of commissioning silver or gold and jeweled oklads, or covers, for revered icons dates back centuries. In 1657, Patriarch Nikon ordered a gold oklad for the twelfth-century icon of the Vladimir Mother of God, the palladium of the Russian state. By the nineteenth century, icons and their covers of silver were being produced contemporaneously. Chalices of silver or gold were applied with enameled plaques of the Saviour and the Mother of God, and similar enamels are to be found on bishops' mitres.

Table Ornaments

Throughout the centuries in Russia, as in Europe, the display of silver has always been an indicator of the wealth of a household. Silver tea sets of heavy gauge silver, richly gilded or sumptuously enameled, could be displayed to great advantage on the sideboard of a rich Moscow merchant. A samovar, necessary for supplying hot water for tea, could be found in every household. Most families owned samovars of base metal such as pewter or brass, but samovars of silver were owned by the wealthy.

One of the most popular forms upon which the goldsmiths and enamellers lavished their talents was the kovsh. The kovsh is a peculiarly Russian object that can be traced back in origin to the sixteenth century when it was made of wood and took the more distinguishable form of a bird. It was originally used as a dipper, but came to be used by the Tsar or Tsarina, when it was made of silver as a presentation object, much in the same way that snuffboxes were used as presentation pieces in eighteenth-century France. These imperial presentation kovshes were chased with the cipher of the reigning emperor or empress as well as with the imperial eagle. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, the kovsh had become lavishly enameled and a showpiece par excellence.

Trevi Jewelry Special Services

Trevi Jewelry offers a new service for its customers. You may commission our renowned artist to create museum quality enamel portrait in gold or sterling silver frame, decorated with diamonds or other precious stones. Trevijewelry.com offers replica of black widow brooch.

The production of Faberge's inspired objects is highly labor-intensive. Many hours of hand crafting is required to give an enamel object a velvety finish. The technique of enameling is an extremely delicate one involving firing the enamel at very high temperatures well over 1000°F. Also, an enamel object that combined different colors is fired in the kiln more than once, at different temperatures for different colors. The pleasing effect of translucent enamels is obtained by engraving a design on metal using a machine known as a tour a guilloche, then enameling over this design in translucent colors.

Our Stella/monument in high demand among our customers who wish to create eternity for dear ones they lost.

You may commission your own portrait, or portrait of your beloved, family or child's portrait, your pet's portrait. High-quality, clear photo will be a key to a successful portrait. You may commission a portrait of any technique and style, you may choose any background for your portrait, and at your request our artists can paint you in company with any famous person you choose.