Last update:
October 24th
2011

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Name Revolving Miniatures, or Rock Crystal Egg

Date 1896

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-master Michael Evlampievich Perchin - Painter of miniatures: Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908)

Marks MP. in cyrillic, crossed anchors, 56

Media gold, diamonds, emerald, rock crystal

Size 24,8 cm tall - 9,8 cm diameter

Techniques guilloche, ronde bosse, enamel

Kept in Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection)
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eggBanded in diamonds and translucent emerald enamel, it is surmounted by a rare Siberian emerald weighing 26 karats, cut en cabochon and pointed. On a plinth of rock crystal, the double spheroid base in contrastyly colorful enamels, twice circled with diamonds, is designed with monograms of the Tsarina, as the Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, before her marriage, and later as Aleksandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia. Above these appears a series of diamond crowns of the respective royal houses.

The two halves of this rock crystal egg are held together by a narrow rose-cut diamond and translucent emerald-green enameled gold mount, culminating at the top with a 27 carat cabochon Siberian emerald, probably the biggest gem used in the Tsar Imperial Easter Eggs.

The Egg is supported on a circular rock crystal plinth. The monograms of the Tsarina as the Princess Alex of Hesse-Darmstadt before her marriage, and as Alexandra Fyodorovna, Tsarina of Russia, each surmounted by their respective crown, appear as separate formal patterns encircling this plinth.

This was the last of the five Imperial Easter Eggs bought by Lillian Thomas Pratt. The other four Eggs are the 1898 Pelican Egg, the 1903 Peter the Great Egg, the 1912 Tsarevich Egg and the 1915 Red Cross Portraits Egg.

Fabergé invoiced the Emperor 6750 roubles for this Egg in 1896. That was then around #675. The USSR's Antikvariat, the Soviet agency that was established to sell art treasures outside of Russia, sold this Egg to Armand Hammer in 1930 for 8000 roubles. Until the mid-1940s, the Hammer Galleries in New York advertised it with a price tag of US$55,000. Mrs Pratt purchased it from the Galleries during 1940s for an unknown sum.

inIts "surprise" is that the emerald at the apex, when depressed, engages a hook that revolves the miniatures on a columnar axis. All but two miniatures are signed by Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908), and are framed in gold.

These, showing the royal residences in Germany, England and Russia associated with the life of the Czarina, include views of palaces in and near Darmstadt, Hesse; Balmoral and Windsor Castles, and Osborne House in the British Isles; the Winter, Antichkov, and Aleksandr Palaces of Russia.

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