Christie's Geneva, 15 November 2007, lot 266
Property from a Private American Collection of Historic Jewels
The Sotheby’s group of objects confirmed that the Imperial couple often celebrated their wedding anniversary on 16 August with the giving of lavish gifts commissioned from Fabergé. Given the Romanov tradition of giving portrait diamonds to one’s nearest and dearest, it is suggested here that the present lot may have been a gift from the Grand Duke to his wife at the time of their 25th wedding anniversary in 1899. An attribution to Fabergé is supported by the Duke’s patronage of the firm; it was he who orchestrated the commissioning of The Hen Egg, the first Imperial Fabergé Easter egg purchased by Alexander III in 1885. Fabergé’s workmasters were skilled in the use of portrait diamonds, which were sometimes incorporated in the decoration of the famous Imperial eggs, including the 1893 Caucasus Egg (over a portrait of Grand Duke George Alexandrovich) and the 1895 Rosebud Egg (a portrait of Emperor Nicholas II). Additionally, table diamonds cover cyphers or dates on the 1897 Coronation Egg, the 1900 Cockerel Egg, the 1906 Swan Egg, the 1907 Rose Trellis Egg, the 1908 Alexander Palace Egg, the 1911 Fifteenth Anniversary Egg, the 1912 Napoleonic Egg, the 1912 Tsarevich Egg, the 1913 Romanov Tercentenary Egg, the 1914 Grisaille Egg, and the 1898 Kelch Hen Egg (K. Kettering, “Fabergé and the Romanov Portrait Diamonds”, Reports of the International Academic Conference: 170th Anniversary of the Birth of Carl Fabergé, Fabergé Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, October 7, 2016, ed. Mikhail Ovchinnikov, forthcoming in 2018).
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