Lot 344
  • 344

An Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel box, workmaster Michael Perchin, St Petersburg, 1897

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • gold, enamel, diamonds
  • width 10.6cm, 4 1/4 in.
of rounded rectangular form, the lid centred with the diamond-set crowned cypher of Emperor Nicholas II on a ground of translucent white enamel over sunburst engine-turning within a diamond frame, within an openwork panel chased with two opposing griffins rampant bearing swords, their shields set with large circular-cut diamonds, within bandwork and foliate scrolls and volutes, the ground of translucent red enamel over banded wavy engine-turning, the lid border of pink and green gold husks and beads, the corners set with diamonds, the sides reeded horizontally, the base and lid borders of chased green gold leaf trails, struck with workmaster's initials (his early mark on the flange, his later mark on the base and lid) and Fabergé in Cyrillic, 56 standard


Presented by Emperor Nicholas II to Lieutenant-General Theodor Feldmann, Head of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum, 3 December 1897 Returned to the Imperial Cabinet by Lieutenant-General Feldmann, 16 December 1897

Presented by Emperor Nicholas II to Baron Maximilian von Lyncker, Marshall of the Household of the German Emperor, 15 November 1899

Acquired by François Dupré in the 1930s or 1940s

Thence by descent


Excellent condition, with only very minor surface scratches, fewer than expected.
"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

According to the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet and the research of Dr Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm, there were only two Nicholas II cypher boxes with red enamel purchased from Fabergé before 1903, the end of Perchin’s tenure.  The first, numbered 29 in the ledger entry and described as ‘red enamel with brilliants’ was one of four delivered to the Emperor in October 1896 for his personal use.  (Another of these, also by Perchin, was the green and white enamel box which the Emperor gave to his uncle Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and/or his aunt Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, which sold, Sotheby’s London, 30 November 2009, lot 80.)  The box numbered 29 cost 845 roubles, which rules it out as being the present lot, with its very large diamonds.  The second red box, the present lot, is recorded as having ‘brilliants and rose[-cut diamond]s; it entered the Cabinet’s stock on 25 April 1897,  purchased from Fabergé at a cost of 1760 roubles and assigned the number 49.  Its high cost is consistent with the size and number of the diamonds on the present lot.  It was given to Lieutenant-General Feldmann on 3 December of that year.  According to the ledgers, he returned it to the Cabinet in exchange for its value in cash thirteen days later, the box renumbered 66 at this point.  It is this entry which confirms its colour: ‘red enamel, brilliants’.  The box’s final appearance in the ledgers notes it being given to Baron von Lyncker on 15 November 1899. Feldmann

Lieutenant-General Theodor (Fedor Alexandrovich) Feldmann (1835-1902) was Head of the Imperial Alexander Lyceum, appointed in 1896 when he was sixty-one years old.  His career may not have been altogether successful, as the highest order he received was that of the White Eagle, in 1861.  Whatever his professional shortcomings may have been, as a Lieutenant-General and a loyal servant of the Empire, he was entitled to a costly gift, one of thirty-one cypher boxes given to men of his rank during the reign of Nicholas II (U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, pp. 182-183). 


Maximilian Freiherr von Lyncker (1845-1923) was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Haus-Marschall, a senior post at Court.  (He is not to be confused with the better-known Moritz Freiherr von Lyncker, who was the Kaiser’s Chief of the Military Cabinet, from a different branch of the family.)  Described as ‘narrow-minded, violent and always advocating the strongest measures’, he exerted a ‘pernicious’ influence on his master (J. Röhl, Wilhelm II: The Kaiser’s Personal Monarchy, 1888-1900, Cambridge, 2004, p. 55).  He is recorded as having accompanied the Kaiser on all twenty-six of his cruises between 1899 and 1914 (L. Cecil, Wilhelm II: Volume 2, Emperor and Exile, 1900-1941, London, 1996, p. 29) and was present at Potsdam outside Berlin where the German and Russian Emperors met on 8 November 1899. 

This meeting came at a time of increasing tensions between the two rulers and their senior diplomats.  Nicholas had been avoiding a meeting with an increasingly perturbed Wilhelm for some time, agreeing only reluctantly to this visit after the Kaiser vowed that he could not accept his refusal.  During talks, the Emperor stressed his wish for peace with Germany, and generally, the conference was a success, and tensions eased somewhat.  The main vexation for Nicholas II was a perceived slight by Wilhelm’s wife, Empress Augusta Victoria, which he recounted in a letter to his mother, dated 9 November (O.S.) 1899: ‘I intended to write to you about our visit to Potsdam as soon as I could.... On the whole everything went off well, except for a strange thing happening at the end: the Empress said good-bye to us in the Palace, instead of seeing Alix off at the station.  Why this happened, nobody seems to understand.  Our ladies and gentlemen were in a rage when they saw Alix getting out of the carriage and behind her a lady-in-waiting instead of the Empress.’ (E. Bing, ed., The Letters of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Marie, London, 1937, p. 141-2).  The Emperor was obligated to send the necessary gifts after the visit, and the present lot was dispatched to Germany and Baron von Lyncker.  The Haus-Marschall was likewise honoured by other Courts and received the Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav, Grand Cross Civil, in 1906.  He and his wife, born Nini von Daum, had four daughters.


François Dupré (1888-1966) was a highly successful French banker, art collector, hotelier, and breeder of race horses.  His love of art came genetically; he was the grandson of Barbizon School painter Jules Dupré.  He purchased the Hotel George V in Paris in 1931 and subsequently filled it with his purchases of furniture, paintings and objects.  During the German occupation of France during World War II, the George V, like all the grand hotels of Paris, was requisitioned by the German army; it became the headquarters of Marschall Gerd von Rundstedt.  Dupré came in frequent contact with Germans both before and during the war.  It is likely that he purchased the present lot from one of Lyncker’s daughters or grandchildren.  Well-known as a collector and as someone of means, he was often offered things for purchase by owners in less fortuitous circumstances.  Following his death in 1966 (on the same day his horse Danseur won the Grand Prix de Paris), the box was the property of his widow, Anna Stefanna Nagy Dupré.  On her death in 1977, it passed to her sister, who died in 2002, when it was inherited by the present owner.

The Romanov Griffin

It was the decision of Emperor Alexander II to adopt a Romanov family coat of arms in 1856, shortly after the start of his reign, as a means of increasing the prestige of the dynasty; the double-headed eagle was (and is) the arms of the Russian State, not the family itself.  Bernhard Karl von Koehne, Director of the Senate’s Department of Heraldry, was asked to create a design.  He turned to a banner said to have belonged to Nikita Ivanovich Romanov, Michael Romanov’s first cousin and the only surviving non-royal member of the family at the time of his death in 1654.  The banner itself no longer existed, but a description of it was found in the Kremlin Armoury: a griffin rampant bearing sword and shield within eight lion heads.  Despite some criticism that the new arms were too European, with no specifically Russian elements, thereafter the griffin was used frequently as a heraldic device for the Romanov family.