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July 24th

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Name Czarevich Egg

Date 1912

Provenance Presented by Nicholas II to Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna

Made in St. Petersburg

Work-master Henrik Wigström

Marks Fabergé, H. W.

Media lapis lazuli, gold, platinum, diamonds, ivory

Size 12,5 cm tall, 8,9 cm diameter - frame 9,5 x 5,7 cm

Techniques enamel, watercolour

Kept in Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, USA (Lillia Thomas Pratt Collection)
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Click on the thumbnails to see a bigger image

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eggAlexey, the long-awaited heir to the Romanov dynasty was born to Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna in 1904. Unfortunately in 1911 the Heir-Czarevich fell seriously ill, as he had inherited haemophilia from his mother via the line of Queen Victoria. Alexey wavered for a time between life and death, but he survived, thanks (in the Empress's mind) to the administrations of Rasputin. His miraculous recovery was therefore the inspiration for the 1912 Egg that the Emperor gave to his wife. In the regal rococo-style, the body and the cover of the Egg is formed from six segments of the finest lapis lazuli, making 12 in total. The egg was then embellished with gold cagework including double-headed eagles, hanging Chinoiserie canopies, scrolls, baskets of flowers, double-winged caryatids and sprays concealing the joints. The gold embellishments on the Egg's body cover the joins of the segments. Unfortunately, as the image shows, a crack has developed in the stone on the right.

inThe surprise inside is the Russian double-headed Imperial eagle, covered front and back with diamonds, with a miniature enamelled protrait of the Czarevich Alexey Nicholaevich on the eagle's chest. The reverse side of the miniature shows the back of the seven year old Alexey. The miniature is not signed and comparing the beauty of the Egg and the poor quality of the picture, it is assumed that the original painting got lost and was replaced by the present one.

It wasn't very well known, of course - the Imperial family kept it very quiet - that the Czarevich had hemophilia. He was dying; he was very close to death, so close that the Imperial Court had already written out his death notice. But Alexei survived, and Fabergé designed a special tribute. The Czarevich egg was Alexandra's most cherished.

While the surprise of this Egg has survived, the gold stand that is known from a contemporary photograph in the Fabergé Family Archive is unfortunately missing.

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