Peter Carl Faberge
Famous for the Imperial Eggs that were Easter gifts given by Czar Alexander III and, his son Czar Nicholas II to their wives (Maria and Alexandra), the Faberge studio also created animals in silver, jade and other semi-precious stones, jewelry, clocks and a range of items that were of practical use raised to a work of art, such as cigarette cases, pen holders and parasol handles.
My interest in Faberge grew from the book The Romanov Ranson by Evelyn Armstrong Anthony first published in 1978. Them novel centers around twelve Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs that disappeared at the time of the Russian Revolution. From my first reading, I have been fascinated by Faberge eggs and his other creations. For years I collected eggs and did research to find out if, indeed, there were twelve eggs unaccounted for. (According to the Forbes Collection there are eight that are unaccounted for. Of those there is no extant rendering of four designs. ) There is the fabulous story of one (non Imperial) Faberge Egg that was destroyed in a domestic argument when the enraged wife threw it at her husband.
Despite the fact that he drew design inspiration from all eras of artistic expression -- Ancient Greece through Neoclassical-- and at the end of his career was a precursor of Art Deco, his work is “instantly recognizable and always original”
Do I have to tell you that I own at least five books on Faberge? The information for this blog came from FABERGE by Greza Von Habsburg, a definitive work that was the catalog accompanying the major Faberge exhibition of 2000. Pictures tell his story best.
My personal favorite are the works with an enamel finish. I am constantly amazed at the depth or “opalescent quality”. The use of paintings under the glaze or complicated cut-out designs in gold paillons fascinate me. How were his jewelers able to achieve such perfection? In the last phase of the process, the worker spent hours and hours of buffing the final coat with a shammy [sic] cloth.
Have you noticed that I am really into things that glitter and shine. (I have written previously on Tiaras) I have no desire to own them. (Okay, I would like one piece of Faberge enamel.) It's the physical beauty that captivates me, not the value. A beautiful day will stir my heart as surely as a work of art or a perfect diamond.
Regarding the illustrations: These four of thousands were chosen to illustrate Faberge's artisans expertise at the enamelling process. The Imperial Easter Egg shown is a "mat white opalescent egg underpainted with a green garlanded tellises and the Cross of St George in red and white." A ribbon in the colors of the order encircles the egg and two medals. Under the medals are portraits of the Czar and his son. It was presented to the Empress in April, 1916.
The dark blue with gold flowers is a detail of an Art Nouveau enameled cigarette case. The detail pattern in the enamel is an example of paillons referred to above.
The enameled miniature sedan chair recalls Louis XVI design. The translucent pink is painted over starburst guilloche ground with gold leaf within opaque white enamel borders. This is one of the most impressive examples of the enamel technique.
So what captivates you? What do you collect? What books have led you to a lifelong interest in some THING or IDEA?