Friday, May 14, 2010

The Faberge Imperial Pansy Egg

The House of Faberge produced it's most famous eggs for Alexander III and Nicolas II of Russia. These eggs are made of precious metals or hard stones decorated with combinations of enamel and gem stones. Of the 50 made, 42 have survived.

The 1899 Pansy Egg pictured here is formerly known as the "Spinach Jade Egg", is made of nephrite, silver-gilt, diamonds and enamels. This egg stands on golden twisted leaves from which five enameled pansy flowers and buds emerge. The top part of the egg can be opened to reveal the surprise, a gold tripod on which is located an heart lined in diamonds and surmonted by the imperial crown with eleven scarlet medallions decorated with monograms. By pressing a button the tiny medallions are all opened, and portraits of each member of imperial family become visible.

Originally presented by Nicholas II to Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna in 1899, this egg was one of the ten Eggs sold by the Antikvariat to the Hammer Galleries, New York in 1930.  In 1947, Matilda Geddings Gray, oil heiress, from New Orleans, Louisiana purchased this egg for her neice, Mrs. Matilda Gray Stream as a wedding anniversary present. The Pansy Egg is one of the few significant Imperial Eggs to remain in a private collection.

The House of Faberge recreated this exquisite egg in Limoges porcelain which retails today for an affordable $4000.