A Fabergé jewelled silver-gilt icon of the Mother of God Hodigitria, workmaster Karl Armfeldt, St Petersburg, 1904
This object can be dated most precisely, not only by the inscribed date on the reverse of the icon itself, but by the combination of marks on the frame. It is one of the earliest items produced by Armfeldt following his purchase of Victor Aarne's workshop in 1904. It is struck with the assay master's mark of Yakov Lyapunov, whose death on 28 March 1904 and Alexander Romanov's appointment as director of the St Petersburg assay district on 1 April 1904 nearly coincided with the Aarne- Armfeldt takeover. As Valentin Skurlov notes, "It would... be scarcely possible that artifacts of the master Armfeldt... to carry the stamp 'Ya.L.', Yakov Lyapunov" ("Russian Hallmarks at the Turn of the 19th Century," Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and His World, ed. G. von Habsburg, London, 2000, pp. 405-5). Objects thus marked are known to exist, the present lot being a rare example.