A fine Fabergé carved lapis lazuli, gem-set gold and enamel desk seal, workmaster Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 47,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
A fine Fabergé carved lapis lazuli, gem-set gold and enamel desk seal, workmaster Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 47,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Russian Works of Art, European Silver, and Vertu

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A fine Fabergé carved lapis lazuli, gem-set gold and enamel desk seal, workmaster Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917
of baluster form, comprising three separate pieces of carved lapis with gold mount enameled with translucent green over an engine-turned ground and with white and black opaque enamel, the mounts formed as scrolls and foliage and with suspended, pearl-set swags, struck with workmaster's initials, 72 standard, scratched inventory number 24669, contained in original fitted holly wood box
height 2 3/4 in., 7 cm
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Catalogue Note

The present lot is a fine example of the gold- and enamel-mounted lapis lazuli pieces in late Renaissance and Baroque taste made in the Wigström workshop. Like all Fabergé pieces in these styles, the sources of its design were the richly mounted 16th- and 17th-century hardstone vessels and enameled and gem-set jewelry which inspired Carl Fabergé during his time in Dresden as a young man acquainting himself with the European treasures of the Green Vaults and his subsequent travels in western Europe. Because of its brittleness and variable hardness, carving of lapis demonstrated virtuoso skill in its own right. This semi-precious stone was among those which Fabergé's craftsmen worked to its best advantage, with gold mounts contrasting the rich blue color while complementing the pyrite inclusions. In the case of the offered lot, as in the design of the 1909 Standard Yacht Egg, the blue of the lapis lazuli was combined with opaque white and translucent green enamel, to form a series of strong visual contrasts. Similar Fabergé objects are usually products of the Perchin workshop; those by Wigström, who preferred neoclassicism in keeping with current fashion during his tenure as head workmaster, are rarer. While Perchin and his designers remained more faithful to original models, Wigström favored a freer and more forward-looking interpretation, which was perhaps more in tandem with the view of his employer.  Indeed, the present lot, although essentially Baroque in style, combines earlier prototypes in a contemporary manner.

When the current owner's parents acquired the piece around 1970, the seller informed them that, by tradition, the piece had belonged to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (1856-1929), Nicholas II's imposing uncle and a member of the Supreme Command of Russian forces during World War I. It seems a likely purchase for the Grand Duke, who is known to have favored carved hardstones. Indeed, H.C. Bainbridge, in his history of the firm, recalled a 1937 conversation with Agathon Fabergé in which Fabergé credited the Grand Duke with the idea of the hardstone statuettes that eventually grew into the complex, multicolored figures of Cossacks, peasants and carpenters. According to Agathon Fabergé, the Grand Duke commissioned a friendly caricature of Queen Victoria in jadeite in the 1890s that was considered the “mother” of the later figures (H.C. Bainbridge, Peter Carl Fabergé: Goldsmith & Jeweller to the Russian Imperial Court & Principal Crowned Heads of Europe, London, 1949, p. 111). Apparently, the seal was among his possessions when Grand Duke Nikolai and his family escaped Russia aboard the H.M.S. Marlborough in 1919. He and his wife, Princess Anastasia of Montenegro (1868-1935) were given shelter by her brother-in-law, King Vittorio Emanuel III of Italy (1869-1947), from 1919 to 1922. It is thought that the grand duke presented the seal to the king in grateful appreciation for offering he and his family shelter in Italy. The king was also a great collector and the Renaissance-inspired seal would certainly have been an appropriate gift.

Important Russian Works of Art, European Silver, and Vertu

|
New York