By Casey Lesser
A curator from the Royal Collection examines a mosaic egg, made by Russian jeweller and goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge which was originally commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II in 1914 and acquired by Queen Mary in 1933. Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images.
In 1916, in St. Petersburg, Russia, goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé was overseeing the production of two opulent, decorative eggs. The objects were destined to be the royal Easter gifts presented to Empress Maria Feodorovna and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in April of 1917. But the imperial women would never see those eggs, nor would Fabergé see them finished.
As the Bolsheviks seized St. Petersburg, the three-century-long Romanov rule came to a violent and tumultuous end. The family was forced out of the city and left behind their 50 imperial Fabergé eggs, created between 1885 and 1916, small yet lavish reminders of the dynasty’s grand reign.
A century on, Fabergé eggs continue to enjoy an unmatched position in the history of the decorative arts. “It’s really unusual to have a piece of decorative art (not a painting) that has as much cultural resonance as a Fabergé egg,” says Jo Briggs, associate curator of 18th- and 19th-century art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. “It’s almost the Mona Lisa of the decorative art world.”
Briggs worked alongside Fabergé expert Margaret Trombly to organize the latest exhibition of the ornate eggs in the U.S., “Fabergé and the Russian Crafts Tradition” at the Walters, which has the museum’s two imperial Fabergé as its centerpieces. Today, 43 of the original 50 imperial eggs are known to exist, and can be found in museums and private collections worldwide. Famed vessels of wealth, decadence, and artistry, they continue to capture the public imagination………………….
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