20 November 2021 – 08 May 2022

Victoria & Albert Museum, London


Organized by:

Victoria & Albert Museum, London


The 'Pavlovsk' Museum and Heritage Site, Saint Petersburg; State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg; Royal Collection Trust, UK;  Fersman Mineralogical Museum of the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow; The Moscow Kremlin Museums; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Fabergé Museum, Saint Petersburg; Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Houston Museum of Natural Science; private collections

The Moscow Kremlin Easter EggThis exhibition will explore great Russian jeweller Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), Supplier to the Court of His Imperial Majesty.

The exhibition features two hundred and fifty works from state and private collections.

The project focuses on international contacts of the famous Russian firm. The most significant section of the display is devoted to the activities of its London branch, which is not so well known; Carl Gustavovich's clientele of Edwardian high society has been given special attention. Visitors will be able to familiarize themselves with the history of the famous company, with a wide range of its products – from unique objects from the objets de fantaisie category to jewellery, cigarette cases and precious fancy goods.

Luxurious Imperial eggs are the key exhibits. A genuine discovery is a gold Easter egg made in 1887, containing lady's watch as a surprise, presented by Emperor Alexander III to his wife, Empress Maria Fyodorovna, which for many years was thought to be lost. It appeared at the auction in New York in 1964, but it was not identified and again had disappeared till 2011 when the trader of ancient metalwork by chance bought it in the antique market. Wartski specialists attributed it as the third Imperial Easter egg, which once again took its place in the magnificent row of the Easter presents.

Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see another Easter masterpiece previously not available to the public - a Peacock egg, presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna by her son Emperor Nicholas II in 1908. Сarved from rock crystal, it is decorated with an engraved rocaille pattern and contains an astonishing surprise – an enamel peacock that can be winded with a key. The automatic bird is set in motion – proudly strides, revealing an enamelled gold fan-shaped tail. No less valuable are unique carved stone sculptures. The most interesting are poly-stone 'portraits' of real people, such as A. Kudinov – Empress Maria Fyodorovna's chamber-Cossack, provided by Pavlovsk Museum and Heritage Site. A figurine of another chamber-Cossack, confiscated in 1917, was subsequently brought out from Bolshevik Russia and purchased by an American collector. The carving was discovered while his relatives were sorting out the attic of his house and then sold at an auction in New York in 2013.

The exhibition features Fabergé's 'stone zoo', including portraits of the English royal family's pets, such as Caesar, the agate-carved Norfolk terrier and loyal friend of King Edward VII.

The exhibition organizers did not ignore such an exquisite genre as floral studies. An enamelled gold flower 'Cupid's Delight' standing in a rock crystal pot, so skillfully chiselled that it appears to be filled with water, was lent by the Moscow Kremlin Museums.  It was presented by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, for their 10th wedding anniversary. When you press the button in the centre of the stem, the flower petals open, and miniature portraits of the royal children are revealed. The Moscow Kremlin Museums gave on loan a unique symbol of the Kremlin Fabergé collection – the Moscow Kremlin Easter egg (1904-1906) with a musical mechanism playing a Cherubic Song melody. The Alexander Palace Easter egg (1908) bearing portraits of the royal family children and a surprise – a miniature copy of the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, and finally, the Romanov Tercentenary Easter egg (1913), decorated with watercolour portraits of the members of the reigning dynasty are on display. The display also includes the prayer book in a precious frame presented by Emperor Nicholas II to Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna on their sacred coronation day, and an exquisite cigarette case covered with blue guilloche enamel with a portrait of the heir to the Russian throne Tsesarevich Alexey Nikolayevich, the only son of the last royal couple.