Last update:
October 24th
2011

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Name Gold Pelican Egg (or Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna Egg)

Date 1897

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-masters Michael Perkhin - painter of miniatures: Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908)

Marks MP, crossed anchors and scepter, 56

Media red gold, diamonds, pearls, watercolor on ivory

Size 10,2 cm tall x 5,4 cm diameter - with stand: 13,3 cm tall

Techniques engraving, enamel

Kept in Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, USA.
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eggThe egg is made of gold and the ornaments are engraved. This is one of the few eggs that is not enamelled over most of its surface.

Coincident with the centennial celebration of the patronage of charitable institutions by the Empresses of Russia, this gold egg is engraved with the commemorative dates "1797-1897"; and with the motifs of the Arts and Sciences. Surmounting the egg is a pelican feeding her young, an emblem of motherhood.

The figure of the pelican and its young, in diamonds and opalescent white enamel, represents also tenets of the Christian Faith, Charity and Sacrifice. The Egg is engraved with classical motifs, the commemorative dates 1797 - 1897, and the inscription "Visit our vineyards, O Lord, and we shall dwell in thee."

Fabergé invoiced the Emperor 3600 roubles. The Soviet's Antikvariat sold the piece for 1000 roubles in 1930 to Armand Hammer. From that date until 1936 it was exhibited at the Hammer Galleries in New York. Mrs Pratt acquired it by instalments from 1936-8.

inThe surprise is that the egg, when taken from its stand, can be opened up, unfolding into eight oval panels, each rimmed in pearls. When unfolded, the miniatures have an overall length of approximately 29 cm

Thus are revealed miniatures on ivory by Johannes Zehngraf (1857-1908) depicting the Institutions of which the Dowager Empress was patroness, founded principally for the education of young girls. This egg commemorates the centennial celebration of the patronage of charitable institutions by the Dowager Empress of Russia.

The institutions, founded mainly for the education of the daughters of the nobility, are depicted on an extending folding screen of eight ivory miniatures, each within a pearl border. On the back of the miniatures are listed the institutions portrayed. Closed, the panels form the entire egg, the surface separations of which are ingeniously concealed.

The Egg's original red velvet box has survived.

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