The fine and carefully executed carving of this piece reveals the talents of those sculptors working for Denisov-Uralsky. The turn of the figure’s head provides multiple viewpoints and encourages close inspection of the rich materials which are cut to best reveal their fine qualities, while also bringing the piece to life. Such fine work suggests the hand of Georgiy Malishev who carried out orders for various St. Petersburg workshops, including Fabergé.
The vogue for natural history and ornithology in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods extended to the collection of exotic birds with Nicholas II, his brother George and his son Alexei all keeping parrots as well as Maria Feodorovna's sister Queen Alexandra, who furthermore had more than one hardstone parrot modelled by Fabergé (see RCIN 40478 and 40481). The Russian Imperial family cared deeply enough for the birds to place gravestones to their memory in the gardens of the Gatchina Palace and two such stones remain, one for ‘Popochka, Cockatoo 1894-97’ and another for ‘Popochka, 1899-1912’. The greater longevity of the second companion suggests the family developed a strong affinity and it is not inconceivable that the Dowager Empress, inspired by her sister, ordered this piece as a suitable memorial.
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