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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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 Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs