Shuvalov Palace — nab. Reki Fontanki, 21, St Petersburg, Russia
Shuvalov Palace in St Petersburg, Russia houses the most of Faberge artifacts in the world.
The Tsars of the Russian Empire commissioned these magnificent bejeweled eggs to gift to their mothers, wives and lovers for Easter. Easter is the most significant holiday of the Orthodox Russian Church. These opulent eggs have a bloody past, much like the Easter holiday.
The monarchs believed they had been chosen by God to be the ruler of the land.
Peter Carl Fabergé, jeweler crafted 50 of these eggs for the Imperial Tsars from 1885 to 1916. They were so glorious that only royalty would be fitting of obtaining them.
As the years passed, the eggs became more intricate, depicting the privileged world of the Romanov Empire.
Designers were brought in from around the world to create eggs that contained clocks from clockmakers from Switzerland, paintings, palaces, animals and glorious precious jewels.
Russian history inspired many of the designs. The Hermitage Museum offered historical inspiration with its vast display of treasures.
Nicholas II ordered an egg for Easter 1914, “Catherine the Great Egg”, and gifted it to his Maria Feodorovna, his mother. The egg was inspired by the paintings of François Boucher, a great French artist. There were miniature scenes created with opalescent, pink panels. Upon opening the panels, there was a mechanical chair with Catherine the Great sitting on it and 2 servants carrying her. Fun surprise!
After the fall of the empire, by the 1930’s, the little chair had been lost.
A Coronation Egg, dating back to 1897 was crafted of diamonds, rubies, platinum and gold and hid an Imperial chariot. Craftsmen worked 15 months, 16 hours a day to create this masterpiece.
The 15th Anniversary Egg, made in 1911, to celebrate Nicholas’ 15th year on the throne. It was only 5 inches high but it had the faces of the final Tsar and family featured on it. It became the most famous and sentimental of all the eggs. The 3 Tsarina’s felt this was their favorite because it outlined exquisitely the highlights of the Tsar’s time of control. The base of the egg was a rose shaped diamond engraved with “Faberge”. The top of the egg had a diamond and below the diamond was Tsarina Alexandra’s monogram.
In 1913, the Winter Egg was created. This was an awesome example of Faberge’s artistry. The idea was from a fairy tale about a sorcerer and his snow globe. It was made of very thin carved, crystal rock and bejeweled with 1,600 diamonds and platinum to look like frost. The egg was sold in New York at Christie’s for $9.6 million dollars.
Fabergé marketed the eggs each year with a special annual event. The excitement created talk of how would it look and what would the special surprise inside be.
The egg was kept secret and well guarded until it was delivered by hand to the Tsar.
The House of Faberge became one of the largest jewelry crafters in Europe and was internationally acclaimed. They were commissioned to create silverware and jewels for nobility around the world.
These beautiful gifts of adoration were viewed by starving peasants and the hard working Russian people, as extreme, cruel reminders of the inequality in the life of their people.
The October revolution of 1917 resulted in the destruction of palaces and the Royals were arrested and sent to Siberia. Some of the princesses tried to move diamonds worth 1.3kg by sewing them inside their clothing.
The fall of the dynasty, after 300 years, ended the painstaking creation of these opulent masterpieces. The House of Faberge was taken over by the state in 1918 and the entire stock was taken. Peter Carl Faberge went to Switzerland and died 2 years later. People say he died of heartbreak after his life’s work was taken over by the Bolshevik’s.
7 eggs have disappeared, and the remainder are scattered around the world. King George V and Queen Mary, his wife, have a small collection in London. On Grafton Street, there is a Faberge boutique where you can admire or purchase Faberge jewelry.
Bentley & Skinner Jewelers opened a room of exquisite examples of Faberge’s precious collection. There is a gold enamel desktop clock which was crafted by the most famous master craftsman, Michael Perchin. Also on display is a diamond and aquamarine pendant owned by Empress Maria Feodorovna.