Lot 536
  • 536

A Fabergé Imperial Presentation silver and hardstone figural clock, workmaster Julius Rappoport, St Petersburg, 1902

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • hardstone (bowenite), silver
  • height 24.5cm, 9 5/8 in.
cast and chased as a griffin rampant, his left paw bearing a shield in the form of a timepiece surmounted by an Imperial eagle, the white enamel dial with Arabic numerals within a leaf tip-chased bezel hinged below, the interior engraved 'Tsarskoë Selo/ Mai 1902', his right paw holding a sword, on an oval bowenite base above four gadrooned cushion feet, struck with workmaster's initials and K.Fabergé in Cyrillic beneath the Imperial Warrant, 88 standard, scratched inventory number 764, with winding keys, in a red plush Wartski case


Presented by Emperor Nicholas II to Marie-Félix Silvestre (1851-1914)

Wartski, London

Purchased from the above by the uncle of the present owner in the 1950s

Thence by descent


U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, p. 469.


Overall excellent condition. There are scratches to the top of the sword on both sides which could be buffed out. The surface of the silver has been lacquered to prevent tarnishing. A very impressive object.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The State Visit to Russia of President Emile Loubet of France in May of 1902 was in reciprocation for that of the Emperor and Empress to Paris the previous year and was an occasion for the bestowal of lavish gifts on Loubet and his retinue.  Accompanying the French President and fifth in order of precedence after him, Marie-Félix Silvestre, listed as 'colonel d'artillerie attaché à la personne de M. le Président', was a career officer who had risen through the ranks of the French army and had served as military attaché to Berlin in the 1880s.  He accompanied Loubet on several foreign trips and, having a pleasant and courtly manner, had been entrusted recently with the presentations of the Grand Cross of the Légion d'Honneur to King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in February 1901 and to King Alfonso XIII of Spain in January 1902.  He would later lead the French mission in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, having attained the rank of general.

The Cameral Office of the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty went to great trouble to insure that appropriately generous gifts were given, the objects decided upon and purchased well in advance.  The Cabinet's ledger (illustrated) lists the gifts presented and records at number five Silvestre's name and military rank with his gift: 'clock - griffin, from Fabergé' with the cost of 500 roubles.  Fabergé's invoice sent to the Cabinet (illustrated) records the object as '1 clock - griffin with eagle' and also notes the price and the inventory number 764.

The form of the griffin rampant, one of the heraldic devices of the Romanov Dynasty, was used for other Fabergé silver objects, either clocks or desk ornaments, probably intended for presentation; apparently all were produced in Rappoport's workshop.  Emperor Nicholas II had taken a silver and bowenite griffin clock with him on his State Visit to France in 1901, to be presented to the Société Hippique at Compiègne (U. Tillander-Godenhielm, op. cit, p. 467).  A silver griffin without a clock is in the Hermitage, its base inscribed in Russian 'Presented by Grand Duke George Mikhailovich on 7 March 1898 in memory of the inauguration of Alexander III's Russian Museum' (inv. no. ERO-5395, illustrated, G. von Habsburg and M. Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, 1993, no. 71, p. 226).  A griffin clock on a tall nephrite base sold, Sotheby's New York, 11 December 1979, lot 334 (illustrated, G. Hill, Fabergé and the Russian Master Goldsmiths, 1989, no. 155).  Another example, on a tall bowenite base, was shown at the Wilmington exhibition (illustrated, G. von Habsburg, Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and His World, 2000, no. 175, p. 116).  And finally, a griffin clock on a tall rhodonite base, struck with the mark of Rappoport's successors, the First Silver Artel, sold, Christie's London, 30 November 2004, lot 529.  The identities of the recipients of the latter three examples, if indeed they are Imperial Presentation objects, are unknown.  The present clock, unlike all those cited above, is distinctive in its incorporation of the Imperial eagle above the timepiece.