Last update:
July 13th
2005

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Name Lilies of the Valley Egg

Date 1898

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-master Michael Perkhin - miniatures by Johannes Zehngraf

Marks MP, crossed anchors and scepter, 56

Media gold, green-gold, enamel, diamonds, rubies, pearls, rock crystal, watercolor on ivory

Size 15,1 cm (opened: 19,9 cm) tall

Techniques guilloche, translucent rose pink, and green enamel

Kept in Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow
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eggFaberge made a point of learning something of the private lives of his most important clients. He knew that pink was the favorite color of the Empress, and lilies of the valley her favorite flower. Every spring, Alexandra had the rooms of the palaces filled with beautiful floral bouquets. As well pearls were her favorite jewels so the combination in this Egg would have delighted her.

This egg is one of only three eggs executed in the Art Nouveau style, of which the Empress was very fond. Gold egg enameled translucent rose on a guilloche (1) field covered with gold-stemmed flowers made of pearls, diamonds and rubies on a guilloche field, segmented by narrow bands of small diamonds. It is supported on four dull green gold cabriole (2) legs composed of overlapping leaves veined with rose diamonds. The egg is surmounted by a rose diamond and cabochon ruby Imperial Crown set with two bows and quartered by four lines of rose diamonds and decorated with lilies-of-the-valley in pearls and rose diamonds. The background for the flowers - rose colored enamel - is complemented by the spring green leaves, which are also enamel.

This egg, which originally cost 6700 rubles, was also housed in Alexandra Feodorovna's Study in the winter palace, but some views of her Study at the Alexander palace clearly show this egg in the Mauve Boudoir. It is possible that on her departure from the Alexander Palace, the egg was sent to the Winter Palace to join the others, and from there sent to Moscow. This egg was acquired by Forbes in 1979 along with the Coronation Egg for $2.16 million.

After eighty years of exile this egg has been returned home thanks to Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, Chairman of board of directors of Open Society "Sual-holding" who has purchased it from successors to Malcolm Forbes and has made it accessible to the Russian citizens. Sale of the Forbes' collection from Sotheby's auction in the beginning of 2004 could make objects channel off in separate collections and countries. Purchasing of the whole collection by V. Vekselberg before the advertised bidding is unprecedented in auction practice.

inOn top of the egg, a tiny replica of the imperial crown sits. When lightly depressed, reveals the surprise of this egg. It releases a geared mechanism inside to raise from the top the fan of three tiny oval miniatures by Johannes Zehngraf. The portraits of the Czar Nicholas II in military uniform, and his first two daughters, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana are framed by rose diamond borders and backed with gold panels engraved with the presentation date: April 5, 1898. A turn in the opposite direction automatically folds and returns the miniatures back to the interior of the egg.

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(1) Guilloche = a decorative design in which two or more curved lines or bands are interwoven, forming a series of spaces between them.

(2)Cabriole = leg of a table, chair, etc. that curves outward and then tapers inward down to the foot, often claw-like and grasping a ball.

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