- Coronation (Fabergé egg)
The Imperial Coronation Egg is a jewelled
Fabergé eggmade under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergéin 1897by Fabergé ateliers, Mikhail Perkhin and Henrik Wigstrom. The egg was made to commemorate the 1896 Coronationof Czar Nicholas II. The valuable piece of Russian history was then presented as a gift to his spouse, the Tsaritsa, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna.
It was frequently on exhibition at The
Hermitage Museum(specifically the Winter Palace) in St. Petersburg, Russia, and also materialized in various museums worldwide, placed in temporary exhibits there. Georges Stein is responsible for the creation of the gold Coronation Coach (at right). It is currently owned by one of the Russian oligarchs, Viktor Vekselberg.
The egg is made from
gold, enamelled translucent lime yellow on a guillochéfield of starbursts, referencing the cloth-of-gold robe worn by the Tsarina at her Coronation.
It is trellised with bands of greenish gold laurel leaves mounted at each intersection by a gold Imperial
double-headed eagleenamelled opaque black, and set with a rose diamond on its chest. This pattern was also drawn from the Coronation robe worn by the Empress.
A large portrait
diamondis set in the top of the egg within a cluster of ten brilliant diamonds; through the table of this stone, the monogram of the Empress can be seen. A smaller portrait diamond is set within a cluster of rose diamonds at the end of the egg, beneath which the date 1897 is inscribed on a similar plaque. The egg was presented, together with a glass-enclosed jadeitestand for the display of the Carriage, at a cost of 5650 rubles.
Fitted inside a velvet-lined compartment is a precise replica, less than four inches long of the
Eighteenth-centuryImperial coach that carried the Tsarina Alexandra to her coronation at Moscow's Uspensky Cathedral, created by Georges Stein.
The red colour of the original coach was recreated using strawberry coloured translucent enamel and the blue upholstery of the interior was also reproduced in enamels. The coach is surmounted by the Imperial Crown in rose diamonds and six
double-headed eagles on the roof; it is fitted with engraved rock crystalwindows and platinumtyres, and is decorated with a diamond-set trellisin gold and an Imperial eagle in diamonds at either door. Complete with moving wheels, opening doors, actual C-spring shocks, and a tiny folding step-stair.
Missing surprises include an
emeraldor diamond pendant that hung inside the replica coach, a glass-enclosed jadeite stand for the display of the carriage as well as a stand made of silver-gilt wire.
The Coronation of
Czar Nicholas IIand his spouse, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovnawas the catalyst for the Imperial Coronation Egg's creation, to celebrate the historical event. The Coronation on May 14, 1894, was a day of jubilance and pride in the Romanovs, celebrated by throngs of spectators. The Russian nobles and guests gathered on the Eastern Orthodoxday of Dormition, the death of Mary, inside Uspensky Cathedral for the actual Coronation. The throne of the Czar, the former throne of Michael I of Russiawas inset with 870 diamonds, rubies, and pearls. The throne of the Czarina, the famous ivory throne of Ivan the Great, also was inset with a vast collection of jewelsand rare gemstones.
The gold miniature coach, which is removable from the interior of the Coronation Egg, is a replica of
Catherine the Great's Gold Coach of 1793used to transport the last Romanov rulers from ceremony to ceremony on the coronation week. Another artifact used in the coronation from the reign of Catherine was the nine-pound diamond crown made by Jérémie Pauzie in 1762.::- Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, Brother of Empress Alexandra, Grandson of Queen Victoria [http://www.treasuresofimperialrussia.com/e_chap6_coronation.html]
Past and present ownerships
The Egg was first given to Czarina Alexandra of Imperial Russia on
Easterof 1897. The egg was displayed in the Empress' apartment at the Winter Palacein St. Petersburg, resting in a jewelled carriage. Upon the fall of the RomanovDynasty, the egg was confiscated by the Provisional Government in 1917 and was listed among the treasures removed from the Anichkov Palace. It was then dispatched to the Kremlinand finally transferred to the Sovnarkomin 1922 for sale.
During the Famine of 1921, a wealthy American doctor,
Armand Hammer, recovered many works of art and priceless antiques that would have been lost in the political upheaval of the Russian Revolution. Hammer, through negotiations, was able to purchase 11 of the Fabergé Eggs, but the Coronation Egg was not among those purchased or sold by Hammer. Instead, it was purchased in 1927 by Emanuel Snowman for Wartskia family-owned firm of art and antique dealers in London. The egg was then sold to the collector Charles Parsons in 1934, but then reacquired by Wartski in 1945 and remained with the company until early 1979.
Late twentieth century
March of 1979 saw the sale of the egg to
Malcolm Forbesfor $2.16 Million USDalong with the "Lilies of the Valley" Fabergé Egg. On February 4, 2004, Sotheby'sAuction House announced that more than 180 Fabergé art pieces, including 9 rare Fabergé eggs had been sold to Viktor Vekselberg. The official selling price of the Coronation Egg to Vekselberg was never publicly disclosed by Sotheby's, fueling much speculation. However, CNNreported the day after the sale that "...it was a very serious offer that the Forbes family accepted." The price of the Coronation Egg was estimated at $24 million.::- Victor Vekselberg, Chairman of Renova Group]
Representation in film
An accurate model of the Imperial Coronation Egg was depicted in the 2004 crime film, "
Ocean's Twelve". The replica was produced by design studio "Vivian Alexander", popular for recreating famous items of jewelry for public and private purposes. The replica is worth approximately $4,000 USD. In the film, the egg was stolen in a grand heist from a museum in Romeby the notorious "Ocean's Twelve".
James Bondfilm, " Octopussy" (1983), encompasses the mysterious appearance of a fabricated Coronation Egg at a party in the British Embassy of West Berlin. The plot for the film is adapted from Ian Flemings 1963 short story "The Property of a Lady".
Peter Carl Fabergé
Czar Nicholas II
Alexander III of Russia
* [http://andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fab/17/fab17.html A detailed article on the "Coronation" Egg]
* [http://www.treasuresofimperialrussia.com/e_chap6_coronation.html Excerpts from a book written on the "Coronation" Egg]
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