The Rothschild Faberge Egg to be offered at Christie’s London in november 2007

A landmark discovery, this exceptional and unrecorded work of art is expected to realise 6 million to 9 million King Street – Christie’s announce that they will offer at auction a remarkable discovery, The Rothschild Faberge Egg. Previously unrecorded and an addition to no more than 12 documented examples known to have been made to Imperial standards for anyone other than the Russian Imperial Family, this exceptional work of craftsmanship is expected to realise 6 million to 9 million ($12 to $18 million) and potentially establish a new world record price for a Russian object. The Rothschild Faberge Egg will be offered at the auction of Russian Works of Art on 28 November 2007, and will highlight Russian Art Week, a series of auctions dedicated to Russian Pictures, Works of Art, Books, Manuscripts and Icons which will take place in London from 26 to 29 November 2007.

Anthony Philips, International Director of Silver and Russian Works of Art at Christie’s: “The discovery of this masterpiece is the most exciting of my 40 year career. Although few examples exist, The Faberge Egg is known around the world as one of the most impressive and exclusive works of art ever made. The Rothschild Faberge Egg, signed and dated by Karl Faberge in 1902, encapsulates every characteristic that defines a true masterpiece; authorship, craftsmanship, provenance, condition and rarity, and we expect this remarkable object to be of profound interest to private collectors and institutions from around the world.”

Alexis de Tiesenhausen, International Head of Russian Art at Christie’s: “Over recent years, Russian works of art have flourished on the international platform which Christie’s provides, and the interest and value in this category has increased considerably. The Rothschild Faberge Egg presents superlative Russian craftsmanship to the international collecting community, and we expect to attract the interest of clients from around the world during its forthcoming tour of New York, Moscow, Paris and Geneva, and at the auction in November at Christie’s in London. The Rothschild Faberge Egg highlights a week of sales when we will offer a series of auctions dedicated to Russian works of art and we look forward to capturing the interest of the international collecting community during what promises to be a landmark week of sales in London.”

The Rothschild Faberge Egg has never been published and has only ever been recorded in private family records. The egg was a gift from Beatrice Ephrussi (1864-1934) (ne de Rothschild) to Germaine Halphen (1884-1975) on the occasion of the latter’s engagement to Beatrice’s younger brother, Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949). They married in 1905 and it has remained in the family ever since. Beatrice’s husband Maurice Ephrussi (1849-1916) was born in Odessa, Russia, and worked for the Rothschild family’s oil interests in Baku. He went on to become a banker, helping to establish the Ephrussi Bank in Paris. It is possible that Maurice ordered the egg whilst in St. Petersburg, or during one of Faberge’s selling trips to Paris at the turn of the 20th century.

The Rothschild Faberge Egg is a superlative masterpiece by a master-craftsman. Exceptionally large with brilliantly chased vari-coloured gold work and enamelled in Faberge’s most exciting and lively colour – a lovely translucent pink – its face is a clock and it contains an automaton cockerel.

Every hour, the diamond-set cockerel pops up from inside the egg, flaps his wings four times and then nods his head three times while opening and shutting his beak and crowing. Each performance lasts approximately 15 seconds, before the clock strikes the hour on a bell. The egg is hallmarked under the enamel by Faberg’s leading workmaster, Michael Perchin, and is further signed and dated, K. Faberg, s 1902. This is one of only three known examples with both a clock and an automaton, the others being the Imperial Cockerel Egg of 1900 and the Chanticleer Egg of 1904.

In 1885 Tsar Alexander III commissioned an Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna. The Tsar asked Peter Carl Faberge, a craftsman whose work was admired by the Empress, to create an object of spectacular beauty. Faberge concentrated all his efforts on a creation which would impress the Imperial family and on the morning of Easter day in 1885, he delivered a spectacular enameled egg with a golden yoke, inside of which was a golden hen, inside of which was a miniature crown of diamonds and a ruby egg. The Tsar and Empress were so taken by the gift that he instructed Faberge to make a unique egg for his wife every Easter day, insisting that each must contain a surprise befitting of an Empress. The Tsar died unexpectantly in 1894 and was succeeded by his son, Nicholas II, who continued the tradition, ensuring that both his wife and his mother received an annual gift of a Faberge egg every Easter.

The tradition lasted until 1917 when the Tsar abdicated among civil unrest and was taken hostage with his family, all of whom were executed on 17 July 1918. In total, 50 eggs were made and delivered to the Imperial Family but not all survive.

There are no more than 12 recorded examples which are known to have been created to Imperial standards for private clients, to which the Rothschild Faberge Egg is an exciting addition. The most renowned are those commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, Emmanuel Nobel, seven eggs made for the industrialist Alexander Kelkh and his wife, who took delivery of an egg every year from 1898 and 1904, and an example commissioned by Prince Felix Feliksovich Iusupov, who was married to the Czar’s niece and assassinated Rasputin.

Faberge is synonymous with luxury and superlative craftsmanship and the Faberge Egg remains the rarest, most impressive and most desirable of all his creations. The Rothschild Faberge’s Egg is a wonderful and exciting addition to Faberge’s finest masterpiece.

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Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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