Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Eggs by Fabergé

Writing about geese and golden eggs so near Easter
reminded me of the Easter Eggs created by the House of Fabergé 
for the ill-fated family of Czar Nicholas II in Russia.

Rose Trellis egg, photo from

The first time I heard of the Fabergé collection,
I was captivated by the idea of a jeweled egg.
So when I discovered that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
in Richmond, Virginia
had a few of the Imperial Easter eggs in its Fabergé collection,
I was excited to go see them in person.

It's been a very long time now since I saw them,
but I've never forgotten how elegant they were.
The craftsmanship is meticulous.
The one I recall with the most clarity
 is the white enamel Imperial Red Cross Easter egg
made for the Dowager Empress Maria.
When opened, it reveals miniature portraits of the Romanov family.

Imperial Red Cross Easter egg, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Please click here for full photo credits: 

The eggs in Richmond, Virginia are exquisite, 
but they are more gilded than bejeweled. 
I expected them to glitter 
from thousands of tiny diamonds and crystals.
I admit to being a little disappointed that the reality didn't match my imaginings.
Even though they don't sparkle, they are breathtaking.
One, the Imperial Czarevich Easter Egg from 1912,
 is crafted of gold and lapis lazuli:

© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Please click here for full photo credits: 

This Fabergé collection is currently on tour,
according to the VMFA website
and won't reopen for some time, unfortunately.

The first Imperial Easter egg was commissioned in 1885
by Czar Alexander III as a gift for his wife Czarina Maria.
After Czar Alexander's death, his son Nicholas II continued the tradition.
All together, 50 Imperial Easter eggs were made.
Ten are in the Kremlin, eight are lost (
Here's one called the Lilies of the Valley Easter egg:

Lilies of the Valley Fabergé egg

This one is called the Spring Flower egg:

The Coronation egg opens to reveal a tiny gold coach:

They are excessive of course, given the contrast 
between the opulence of the monarchy 
and the wretchedness of its people.
But now, decades later,
they can be appreciated as undeniably beautiful works of art 
given by a monarch in celebration of love, tradition, 
and the symbolism of  Easter.
And, although he didn't realize it at the time,
 an enduring gift to the rest of us.

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