November 30, 06:31 PM GMT
7,000 - 9,000 GBP
A Fabergé jewelled jasper model of an elephant, St Petersburg, circa 1900
realistically modelled with rose-cut diamond-set eyes
length 6cm; 2⅜in.
When Alexander III ascended the throne in 1881, his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna (née Princess Dagmar of Denmark) was already a much beloved public figure in Russia. Her natural beauty and charm had earned the love of the Russian people for both herself and her homeland. Carl Fabergé, also captivated by the Emperor's consort, sought to pay tribute to Denmark through his objects of fantasy, specifically his carved hardstone animals, of which the Empress was particularly fond - between 1891 and 1916, cabinet ledgers report the Empress purchasing no fewer than 233 of Fabergé's lapidary masterpieces (G. von Habsburg, Fabergé: Treasures of Imperial Russia, Fabergé Museum, St Petersburg, 2017, p. 134).
The highest Danish military order was the Order of the Elephant, whose insignia included a white enamel elephant bearing a brick tower on its back. Consequently, Fabergé assimilated this image into his work by including elephants both with and without the brick tower into the firm's repertoire of hardstone animals. These elephants were carved with a playful sensitivity towards expression.