May 25, 03:15 PM GMT
8,000 - 12,000 GBP
A Fabergé gold, enamel and rhodonite photograph frame, workmaster Henrik Wigström, St Petersburg, circa 1900
rectangular with sharp corners, the aperture a centralised circle surrounded by an opaque white enamel border, a scroll strut and mammoth ivory reverse, in an original fitted case, struck to the strut with workmaster's initials and Fabergé in Cyrillic, 56 standard, scratched inventory number 26200
height 8.5cm; 3 3⁄8 in.
The modern, elegantly simple design of the present clock is typical of the last years of design for Fabergé. Accordingly, the scratched inventory number dates the clock to 1916 and links it to other Wigström designs in rhodonite, notably a clock included in the Wigström album, dating from the same period 1915-1916 (included in the forthcoming publication of Henrik Wigström's second album of drawings by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm et al., pl. 259)
The use of a finely chosen slab of rhodonite, showcasing the natural vibrancy of the stone with minimal mounts, makes the present clock a striking example of Fabergé’s lapidary works. In his memoirs Franz Birbaum, one of the most prominent employees of Carl Fabergé describes the use of high quality pieces of rhodonite, praised for their bright pink clusters, such as those in the present example :
‘Its cracks and marks meant that it was not very suitable for sculptures, but it produced wonderful results in sheets and in larger bodies, and the bright pink clusters were marvellous material for small works… The brightness of these clusters often approach ruby.’ (‘Birbaum Memoirs' in G. von Habsburg, M. Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, Milan, 1993, p. 457)
A highly comparable rhodonite clock was once in the collection of Julia Cantacuzene, whose father was US President Ulysses S. Grant. For images, please see K. Farrington, Fabergé, London, 1998, pp. 136-137, illustrated.