May 25, 03:15 PM GMT
15,000 - 25,000 GBP
A Fabergé jewelled aventurine quartz model of a baby rhinoceros, St Petersburg, circa 1900
realistically modelled, the eyes set with demantoid garnets, apparently unmarked
length 6.5cm; 2 9⁄16 in.
In the late nineteenth century, the Japonisme style took Europe by storm, attracting a plethora of wealthy patrons longing to own artwork emulating the exotic East.
Carl Fabergé himself shared this passion for Far Eastern art and built a small collection of Japanese netsukes. Thus, much of the inspiration for Fabergé's hardstone animal carvings was rooted in Fabergé's own pieces and Japanese Meiji period art more broadly. As well as the traditionally depicted animals in European art such as foxes, hares and game, Fabergé expanded the existing pool of animal types in art to include species as intriguing as scorpions, monkeys, rhinoceroses, lizards and marabou storks as well as the more familiar toads, fish, birds, boards and dachshunds.
What set Fabergé’s animal models apart from those of the company’s competitors was the exceptional degree of realism in terms of texture, pose and expression. Often, Fabergé’s animals were especially humorous and full of character, and these models were in particular demand. The present rhinoceros is the perfect example of this latter category, with its gentle smile and happily swinging tail.
There are three comparable Fabergé models of rhinoceroses held in the Royal Collection, one highly similar model executed in agate, another in chalcedony and the third in bowenite. For further information and images, please see: