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1326, undated

 Item — Box: SC-07 Box 1, Folder: 6, Item: SC07.01.5.135
Identifier: SC07.01.5.135

Scope and Contents

Transcription: [double-headed eagle] The Schaffer Collection of Russian Imperial Art Treasures ROCKEFELLER CENTER NEW YORK #1326 To celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of the capital-city St. Petersburg, the late Czar, Nicholas II, commissioned the court jeweler CARL G. FABERGE, to execute an Easter egg to be presented to the Czarina in honor of the occasion. CARL G. FABERGE, jeweler to Czar Nicholas II and to his father Alexander III, had since 1885 executed an Easter egg yearly to be presented by the sovereign to his wife. However, to celebrate so great an occasion in the annals of the Romanoff family, this egg was planned many years before the date of the anniversary and was ready in 1903. When completed, it proved to be the most sumptuous and magnificent of any ever constructed. At the highest point, the egg measures almost six inches, and at the widest four inches, and is constructed entirely of solid gold. (It is marked “72”, the equivalent of eighteen karat gold). Covering its surface, an elaborate rococo design forms in its many curves, panels and areas perfectly suited to the particular type of workmanship which Fabergé excelled in designing and his workmaster M. Perchin in executing. The rococo curves are perfectly suited to the egg-shape, and are studded with hundreds of diamonds and scores of rubies. Intertwined bullrushes [sic] arising from the lower part of the egg are done in green gold, against the yellow gold surface, and show Perchin’s superb chasing and minute detail. Cat-tails of square cut rubies give the touch of color which is so significant a feature of the egg, and are entwined with garlands of roses contrasting various shades of gold with platinum. On the top of the egg, the diamond monogram of the Czar is enclosed in a wreath enameled in white and emerald green. Around the upper and lower part of the egg are white enameled ribbons, explaining in Russian the significance of the occasion for which the egg was created. Two miniatures around the middle bear portraits of Peter the Great, founder of St. Petersburg (in 1703), and Nicholas II, during whose reign the bicentenary was celebrated (in 1903). Emphasizing the evolution of St. Petersburg during these two hundred years, two other miniatures frame views of the cottage which Peter built on the low-lying ground by the sea, and which was to be the Russian capital, in contrast to the Winter Palace with its grounds as it was under Nicholas II. In the distance of the latter can be seen the Fortress of Peter and Paul with its spire. These four paintings are by VASSILY ZOUEV, with whom Faberge collaborated. He was the most celebrated miniaturist in Russia and was as well miniature painter to the court. Rock crystal was employed instead of glass to cover these paintings and it exactly fits the many-sided panels. The egg bears at the top the monogram and crown of Czar Nicholas II done in diamonds and the date 1703 when St. Petersburg was founded, as well as the date 1903, when the egg was made in celebration of that event. At the bottom, the double-headed Eagle, insignia of the Imperial family, is enameled in black surmounted by the Imperial crown set with diamonds. Over its breast a portrait diamond covers a tiny crest of “St. George and the Dragon” enameled in color. The greatest feature of all, however, is concealed within the egg. On opening it, the mechanism within raises a miniature statue of Peter the Great from the interior. It is executed in solid gold by the Russian Court sculptor G. MALYSHEW, and stands on a sapphire pedestal. It is an exact replica of the colossus representing Peter which to this day stands on a square in St. Petersburg, and which was created on the order of Catherine the Great by Falconet. It is interesting to note that besides the usual hallmarks that were always used, the egg bears the engraved signature “K. Fabergé” and the date 1903. This egg is considered to be the chef d’oeuvre of this great master. It was illustrated on page 3 of the Russian magazine “Stolitza et Usadba” in the April 1, 1916 issue, which was devoted to a description of the Imperial Easter eggs. They were reproduced by special permission of the Czar, and the Peter the Great egg is the first illustrated. It was also reproduced and described in the November, 1936 issue of “The Connoisseur” on page 284, as well as in the “Art News”, in its issue of November 7, 1936, on page 16, and in “The New York Sun” of October 31, 1936, page 17. MRS. JOHN L. PRATT


  • Creation: undated


Language of Materials



The collection is open for research.

Digitization of the collection has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The digital collection can be accessed through the VMFA Collections Search website.

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Biographical / Historical



1 page

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lillian Thomas Pratt.

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Schaffer Collection, Russian Imperial Art Treasures, Rockefeller Center

Digitization of the Lillian Thomas Pratt Archives has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives Repository

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220-4007 United States