News / USA

Fabergé Revealed at Virginia Museum

More than 500 works, including Imperial Easter Eggs, featured

More than 500 pieces by jeweler Karl Fabergé, including his most famous works, the Imperial Easter Eggs, are on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
More than 500 pieces by jeweler Karl Fabergé, including his most famous works, the Imperial Easter Eggs, are on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Multimedia

Susan Logue

People are fascinated by the objects created by Karl Fabergé, not just because they are beautiful and crafted from precious metals and jewels, but also because they are associated with the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered in 1918 by the Bolsheviks during the Russian revolution.

“One of the major reasons people bought and buy Fabergé is the connection with the imperial family. He was very close to them and they commissioned things for their personal use,” says Geza von Habsburg, curator of the exhibition, “Fabergé Revealed” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Habsburg is a descendant of the 19th century Habsburg rulers of Austria and Hungary, and he's an expert on Fabergé, having written books on his work. Habsburg assembled more than 500 objects, including seven of the jeweler’s most famous works, the Imperial Easter Eggs.

“Only 50 were ever created. Forty or 42 are known to exist. Seven are here all at the same time,” says Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which has five Imperial Easter Eggs in its permanent collection. “The eggs are miraculous, marvelous works of detail. They are not just works of art in terms of beauty, but they are mechanically precise.”

Many of Karl Fabergé's most famous pieces were created for the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered in 1918 during the Russian revolution.
Many of Karl Fabergé's most famous pieces were created for the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered in 1918 during the Russian revolution.

Each egg has moveable parts and a surprise inside. The most precious are estimated to be worth up to $30 million dollars. They were commissioned as Easter gifts beginning in 1885, by Alexander III for his wife. His son, Nicholas II, continued the tradition.

One Imperial Egg is made of lapis lazuli and gold. Inside is a portrait of the tsar's son painted on ivory and framed by platinum and diamonds.

Another golden egg, is known as the Pelican Egg, because of the enameled bird that sits on top of it. It opens into eight miniature paintings.

Each of Fabergé's Imperial Easter Eggs contains a surprise inside, such as miniature paintings.
Each of Fabergé's Imperial Easter Eggs contains a surprise inside, such as miniature paintings.

However, the Imperial Easter Eggs represent only a small portion of Fabergé’s production.

During his career, he employed 500 people and his workshop produced over 150,000 unique objects. Not all were for the tsar’s family.

Fabergé was also a silversmith who created the Russian crown jewels. But very little jewelry or silver remains.

“Of the jewelry, 95 percent was destroyed by the Bolsheviks," says von Habsburg. "Of the silver, 95 percent was melted down by the Bolsheviks. They were in dire need of money after the revolution.”

What they didn't destroy, they sold to collectors.

Karl Fabergé created 50 Imperial Easter eggs, the Russian crown jewels and 150,000 other unique objects of art through his workshop.
Karl Fabergé created 50 Imperial Easter eggs, the Russian crown jewels and 150,000 other unique objects of art through his workshop.

“These works started coming out of Russia in the 1920s and the 1930s, and there was a great mania for collecting Fabergé starting in the 1930s in this country," says Nyerges. "And there were a couple of key collectors.”  

Lillian Pratt was one of them. When she died in 1947, she bequeathed more than 150 Fabergé pieces to the Virginia Museum. Today, it houses the largest collection of Fabergé outside of Russia.  

As for Fabergé, he fled Russia during the revolution and died in Switzerland two years later.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid