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April 14th

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Name Fifteenth Anniversary Egg

Date 1911

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-master Henrik Wigström - miniatures by Vasilii Zuiev

Marks H. W., 72, kokoshnik and Fabergé twice in blue enamel on ribbons under the dates

Media gold, platinum, diamonds, ivory, rock crystal

Size 13,2 cm tall - case 21,3 cm tall

Techniques translucent green enamel, opaque white enamel, opalescent oyster enamel, watercolor, engraving, casting

Kept in Svyaz' Vremyon Fund - Viktor Vekselberg collection - Moscow
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eggThe most sentimental and personal of all the Imperial Egg designs, it was presented by Czar Nicholas II to his wife, Alexandra, on Easter Sunday, April 23rd, 1911. This egg was made to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of Czar Nicholas II's accession to the throne. A lesson in Russian History, the egg contains miniatures of nine major political events of the year 1911, as well as portraits of the Emperor, Empress, and their five children.

The opalescent and opaque white enamel egg is encased within a grid-shaped cage work of gold and green enamel oval-shaped garlands bordered by diamonds, which frame eighteen scenes painted by court miniaturist Vassily Zuiev, depicting miniature portraits of the Imperial family, the czarina, her husband and their five children, and highlights of significant occasions from their lives together, and major events of the reign. The dates of Nicholas and Alexandra's wedding, 1894, and the fifteenth anniversary of the Coronation, 1911, are set beneath the portraits of the Czarina and the Czar respectively. Beneath a table diamond at the top of the egg is the crowned monogram of Tsarina Alexandra; the base is set with a rose-cut diamond - signed Fabergé.

The seven exquisite oval family miniatures by Vasilii Zuiev show all the family united, the apparently happy parents, the four beautiful daughters and the handsome son. Few were those who were initiated into the intense suffering of the parents occasioned by the Heir to the Throne's hemophilia. The boy's illness would in due course bring Rasputin on the scene with tragic consequences for the Imperial family.

Executed at a cost of 16,600, it was an egg that had enormous personal significance to the Empress because it depicted, among other events, the dedication of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris, which the Empress attended, and the Veneration of St. Seraphim of Sarov, a Saint the Empress particularly admired.

This egg, perhaps because of these tender associations, was kept by Empress Alexandra in the Maple Room at the Alexander Palace, and was recorded there in an inventory until 1916. It was acquired by A La Vieille Russie at some point, possibly was acquired by them from Armand Hammer who might have made the purchases during the 1920's. In November of 1966 it was sold to the Forbes Collection.

"Not only is it a staggering tour-de-force of the jeweler's art," said Forbes, "but probably more than any other egg, it is the one most intimately associated with the whole tragedy of Nicholas and Alexandra and that incredibly beautiful family. There are these five children - all these sort of glamorous events surrounding their lives - and there they are looking out at us happily unknowing what was going to happen to them just a few years later."

The names and dates of the birth of the children appearing on the egg are: Olga, 1895, Tatiana, 1897, Marie, 1899, Anastasia, 1901, and Alexei, 1904.
The miniatures include:
* The Emperor Alexander III Russian Imperial Historical Museum in St. Petersburg
* Procession to the Uspenski Cathedral
* Opening of the Alexander III Bridge in Paris
* Huis ten Bosch, the Hague
* Reception for the members of the first State Duma at the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
* Unveiling of the monument commemorating the Bicentenary of the Battle of Poltava
* Unveiling of the statue of Peter the Great at Riga
* Moment of Coronation
* Removal of the remains of the saint, Serafim Sarovski.

inWe don't have news about the surprise. This egg stood on the middle shelf of a corner cabinet in the Tsarina's study at the Alexander Palace.

It is not known how the 15th Anniversary Egg came to the West. Probably is was sold by a high Russian official to a friend in the United States, or it may have been bought by the Hammer Galleries of a Soviet trade official. 1966 sold by A la Vieille Russie to the Forbes Magazine collection, New York where it became Malcolm Forbes' favorite Egg. February 2004 sold by the Forbes' family to the Vekselberg Foundation.

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