Last update:
March 15th
2001

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Name The Moscow Kremlin or Uspenski Cathedral Egg

Date 1906

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-master N/A

Marks Fabergé

Media onyx, four colors gold, silver, glass

Size 36,1 cm tall - base 18,5 x 18,5 cm

Techniques opalescent white and translucent guilloche green enamel, oil painting, musical automaton

Kept in Kremlin Armoury Museum, Moscow
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Front view, side view, back view detail.
Click on the thumbnails to see a bigger image

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eggThe largest of the eggs, this is a stylish model inspired by the architecture of the Cathedral of the Dormition (Uspenski) in the Moscow Kremlin, where the tsars of Russia were crowned.

The magnificent Moscow Kremlin Egg commemorates the return to Moscow of the Imperial couple in 1903. (See the 1897 Coronation Egg). They had tended to avoid the capital following the disaster during the celebrations to mark their coronation. Hundreds of Muscovites died, crushed to death, when a crowd ran amok in Khodynka Meadow. Many russians took the tragedy as a bad omen for the reign of the new tsar.

An enameled gold composition centered on the egg-shaped (removable) dome of the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin, in white opalescent enamel, the interior of the church with its carpets, tiny enameled icons and High Altar made visible through four triple windows, surmounted by a gold cupola; flanked by two square and two circular stylized turrets, the former based on the Spassky Tower, bearing the coat-of-arms of the Russian Empire and Moscow and inset with chiming clocks (1,2 cm in diameter). Standing on a crenelated gold base and octagonal onyx plinth - signed Fabergé, dated 1904.

The Egg was to have been presented in 1904 (hence the date on the base) but was delayed possibly because of the Russo-japanese War. Another disaster is connected with this Egg. Nicholas II's favorite uncle and brother-in-law, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, was assassinated in the Kremlin by a terrorist early in 1905, the first and only time a member of the ruling dynasty was murdered in the ancient citadel of the Moscow Tsars. This may have delayed the presentation of the Egg for a second time. Nicholas II did not receive the Egg until 1906 and the bill of sale was not presented until that year.

Despite these sad associations, the Moscow Kremlin Egg held the most prominent position in Alexandra Fyodorovna's display cabinet in her Sitting Room in the Alexander Palace.

inThe surprise is a clockwork music box with its original gold key at the base of the egg. The music box plays "Izhe Khveruviny" (Cherubim Hymn), a favorite hymn of Czar Nicholas. The Cherubim Himns, traditional triumphal Easter hymns, are played when a clockwork mechanism is wound up by a gold key two and a half inches long. Tiny enameled icons of Our Lady of Kazan and Christ Pantocrator decorate the walls of the cathedral.

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