Exhibition: ‘Fabergé Style. Excellence Beyond Time’

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On December 15, the New Jerusalem Museum and Exhibition Complex* hosts the opening of a large-scale exhibition Fabergé Style. Excellence Beyond Time

The exhibition will feature more than 400 artworks, many of which have never been shown to the general public before. The project will gather the works of the House of Faberge’ from the collections of Russian and foreign museums: the Faberge Museum in Baden-Baden (Germany), the State Hermitage Museum (Russia, St. Petersburg) and others.

The Faberge** exhibition in Russia will present the full range of activities of the world-famous company:

“This is the first such large-scale project that presents not just individual items but tells the story of the development of the House of Faberge’. The extensive exhibition demonstrates visitors not only precious products, but also unique documents that mark the key milestones in the history of the famous brand”, — says Alexander Ivanov, the curator of the exhibition, professor, founder of the first private Museum in Russia (Russian National Museum) and the Faberge’ Museum in Baden-Baden (Germany).

In addition to jewelry and accessories, the Museum “New Jerusalem” presents crystal ware, gift and interior goods and also medals, lapidary works and works of Faberge’ created during the First World War. Also, at the exhibition it will be possible to evaluate and compare the work style of masters from the different departments of the House – St. Petersburg and Moscow. A special place of the exhibition is the Royal Hall, where unique copies of royal gifts, the famous Imperial Easter Eggs, items from the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty, decorations of the Imperial Family will be displayed.

Among the key exhibits there are Easter Imperial Egg from Karelian birch (1917), the last Easter Egg, made and presented to the Imperial Family by Faberge’; Easter Imperial Egg “Imperial Blue Tsarevich Constellation Egg” (1917), intended as a gift to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter 1917; brooch “Butterfly” (1896), presented by Emperor Nicholas II to actress M. N. Yermolova.

One of the halls is recreated as the interior of the office of the chief executive of the Faberge’ firm, where you can see the original writing materials produced by the House of Faberge’ and a phone from the master’s office on Bolshaya Morskaya street in St. Petersburg. A separate room is dedicated to Faberge’s workshops. Its central installation is a huge table, a stylized version of the jeweler’s workspace with unique tools used at the turn of the century, the original sketches of artists which masters based their work on. Interactive touch panels tell all the information and photos about the features of jewelry techniques that glorified this unsurpassed brand. There is also a separate room for workshops and a projector screen showing a film about the history of the Faberge House. In addition to the works of Faberge’ jewelry house, the exhibition presents works of his contemporaries who imitated or tried to compete with the great master — items by Bolin, Sazikov, Ovchinnikov and Khlebnikov.

PHOTOS © New Jerusalem Museum and Exhibition Complex

* “New Jerusalem” is one of the largest museums in Russia. It is located in the town of Istra, 60 km from Moscow. Today the Museum’s collection consists of more than 180 000 items. “New Jerusalem” has often been the venue for major inter-museum projects. The newest one is the exhibition of Carl Faberge’, where many of exhibits will be presented to the public for the first time.

** Artist and entrepreneur, Carl Faberge (1846-1920) managed to create the largest
jewelry company in Russia that determined the development of the industry of the late XIX – early XX centuries. Baltic Germany by birth with French roots from his father, Carl Faberge studied at the German school of St. Anna in St. Petersburg, and then graduated from the Dresden Trading School and the Commercial College in Paris, learning at the same time jewelry art from the Frankfurt goldsmith Joseph Friedman.

The House of Faberge’ became famous worldwide in 1900 after the world exhibition in Paris, where Carl Faberge’ was a member of the jury. In 1903, a shop of the House was opened in London that also became a center of trade with France, America and Asia. The Faberge House clientele consisted of members of royal families of GB, Germany, Italy, Sweden and many other countries. A distinctive feature of the Faberge enterprise was the combination of two different specializations. The company created jewelry with precious stones, enamels and also so-called haberdashery: snuff boxes, bonbonnieres, cigar cases. Meanwhile, the House manufactured silverware — cutlery, vases, bowls, prize cups.

The exhibition Fabergé Style. Excellence Beyond Time runs from 15th December 2018 to 24th March 2019, at the New Jerusalem Museum and Exhibition complex

© New Jerusalem Museum and Exhibition Complex / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 December 2018

Kremlin Releases New Book ‘Faberge. Easter Gifts’

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The Moscow Kremlin Museum has published a richly illustrated book Faberge. Easter Gifts, dedicated to the collection of the precious Imperial Easter Eggs from the museum’s collection. The exquisite eggs were created by Karl Faberge, for the last Russian emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II. The author of the book is the leading Faberge and other Russian jewellery researcher of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, Tatiana Muntean.

Of the 50 known Imperial Easter Eggs, 43 have survived, ten are displayed at Moscow’s Kremlin Armory Museum – the world’s largest collection: Memory of Azov, Bouquet of Lilies Clock, Trans-Siberian Railway, Clover Leaf, Moscow Kremlin, Alexander Palace, Standart Yacht, Alexander III Equestrian, Romanov Tercentenary, and the Steel Military Eggs.

The new book is part of the Treasures of the Armory Chamber series, and allows the reader to examine the Imperial Easter Eggs down to the smallest detail. The colour photographs depict the intricate details of the eggs and their ‘surprises’, which can not be seen in the museums’ display case, but can now be appreciated in this new edition – high quality, close-up photography allow us to see these masterpieces in an entirely new perspective. The edition is supplemented with portraits, archival photographs and postcards. In addition, the author quotes excerpts from various documents, as well as from diaries, letters and memoirs of members of the imperial family, representatives of high society, Karl Faberge himself and his company’s employees.

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One of the books’ pages offer readers a unique surprise – a QR code not only allows the reader to see the multifaceted beauty of one of the Imperial Easter gifts, but also to listen to a musical melody which delighted it’s Imperial recipient.

Each Imperial Easter Egg came with a ‘surprise’ inside, making them the most famous and celebrated works of the company. In 1885, at the request of Emperor Alexander III, the firm created the first Easter egg for his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna. From then on, the order become an annual tradition. Following the accession to the throne of Nicholas II, the firm began to make two Easter eggs – one for his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and one for his consort Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Each new egg had to be different from the previous one and, preferably, surpass it with an unusual artistic beauty.

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Many of the Imperial Easter Eggs were sold by the Soviets in the 1920s. The remaining eggs miraculously avoided destruction and sale, and eventually found themselves in the Moscow Kremlin, as described in the first chapter of the book. For the next half a century the Imperial Easter Eggs were pretty much forgotten. The collection was exhibited in the Armoury, but was perceived at best as a collection of ‘luxurious curiosities’. In the early 1990s, employees of the Moscow Kremlin Museums turned to studying these great works of art. Today, they attract the curiosity of visitors from around the world when visiting Moscow.

The 208 page Faberge. Easter Gifts is published in Russian only. It sells for 2000 rubles ($30.00 USD), and is available from the Kremlin Museum shop in Moscow.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 1 October 2018

Cyrille Boulay Offers Russian Imperial Treasures in Cannes Auction

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Click HERE to review the 148 page auction catalogue

The Cyrille Boulay Auction House will host another auction on 18th July 2018 in Cannes, France, offering yet another magnificent selection of Russian works of art with an Romanov and Imperial Provenance. The auction features icons, historic souvenirs, Fabergé, photographs, silverware, porcelain, portraits, jewellery, vermeil, art work, and more!

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Beautiful pieces by Fabergé to be auctioned on 18th July

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 July 2018

London, Moscow, Baden-Baden … In pursuit of Fabergé eggs

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This article by Konstantin Manenkov was originally published in French in Le Courier de Russie, the English translation by Paul Gilbert

This is an unprecedented affair: billionaire Alexander Ivanov accuses the UK of stealing and damaging rare pieces from his Fabergé egg collection. British customs confiscated them from the oligarch in 2013, during a tax evasion investigation. Today the collector demands from London two billion dollars in damages.

February 2013. The 50-year-old billionaire Alexander Ivanov returns to Moscow after an auction held in London, where he acquired jewelry in the amount of £ 1.2 million (approximately EUR 1.36 million). He passes through customs at London Heathrow Airport without encountering difficulties, although the agents pay particular attention to the over-sized works of art carried by the collector. Shortly before takeoff, the Border Police arrested Sergei Avtonochkin, director of the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden (property of Mr Ivanov in Germany) who, on that day, traveled with the billionaire. Avtonochkin was charged with breach of UK taxation. At the same time, Border Police seized some of the items bought by the two men. The value of confiscated coins is estimated at more than £ 600,000 (€ 680,000). Mr. Ivanov eventually gets permission to board his plane but his purchases remain in the UK.

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ALEXANDER IVANOV. CREDITS: FABERGÉ MUSEUM

December 2014: the billionaire learns that British investigators have searched his museum.

Back in Russia, for many months and despite the efforts of his lawyers, the collector gets no clear answer from the British authorities about the fate of his collection. Worse: at the end of December 2014, the billionaire learns that British investigators, with an international mandate, have searched his Fabergé Museum. Mr Ivanov then discovers that legal proceedings have been opened against him in London. The UK tax office accuses him of not paying VAT for rare items he has acquired in several auctions, including that of February 2013.

British law does not subject works of art to VAT when, immediately after their acquisition, they leave the territory of the European Union. This is not the case of the collection of Mr Ivanov, whose pieces were transported from London to Baden-Baden and therefore remained in the European Union. In addition, English investigators have doubts about the exact location of some of the most valuable pieces of the collectors. They pose the question for the famous egg Rothschild Fabergé gold …

A gift questioned

The translucent pink egg, made in 1902 for the Rothschild family, is one of the most beautiful pieces produced by Peter-Karl Fabergé. It is decorated with a clock and encloses an automaton – a double feature that can be found only in two other pieces from the workshops of the famous jeweler, supplier of the Russian imperial court.

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THE IMPERIAL EGG ROTHSCHILD FABERGÉ. CREDITS: CHRISTIES.COM

The cock encrusted with diamonds sheltered in the egg is animated to mark the passage of the hours, rising by flapping wings, stirring the head and opening its beak to sing.

Alexander Ivanov bought it in November 2007, for £ 9 million (€ 10.2 million, a record at the time), at an auction at Christie’s.

The egg was first offered to President Vladimir Putin, who then donates it to the Hermitage.

Seven years later, in December 2014, shortly before his museum in Baden-Baden was searched, Ivanov offered the precious object to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, for the celebration of its 250th anniversary. The delivery of the gift does not lack solemnity since the egg is, at first, offered to President Vladimir Putin, who then donated it to the Hermitage.

“When I bought it [the Fabergé egg, ed ], I knew it would end up in Russia,” Ivanov said in an interview with Moskovski Komsomolets .

The British detectives, however, suspect Mr Ivanov of silencing an important detail: he would obviously have brought the Rothschild egg to Russia only in 2014; previously it had to be in the Baden-Baden museum. In other words, he had not left the European Union. As a result, by not paying VAT, the collector broke UK law. Alexander Ivanov disputes this version of the facts and assures that, during all this time, the precious object was in Moscow, in one of the old Fabergé shops.

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FABERGÉ MUSEUM IN BADEN-BADEN. CREDITS: EXPEDIA.COM

Two pieces from the Ivanov collection, which became the property of the United Kingdom, were sold at auction …

By the end of 2017, no evidence of Mr Ivanov’s guilt being established by the UK authorities, the collection confiscated in February 2013 by customs officers at Heathrow Airport is finally returned to its owner. But the case is not over yet: to begin with, according to Mr. Ivanov, several coins seized are damaged: including the pommel – rock crystal – cane that belonged to Peter-Karl Fabergé, found broken, and impossible to restore according to him. Worse still, pieces simply have disappeared. Among them: a bronze bust of Tsar Nicholas II and a photo album that belonged to the jeweler Pavel Ovtchinnikov – supplier of Tsar Alexander III -, a rare object whose binding is silver. The collector then asks for explanations: it is said that these two objects, become the property of the United Kingdom, were auctioned …

The Dante operation

Furious, the Russian billionaire decides to file a complaint against the customs services and the British Ministry of the Interior. 

“Some people tried to dissuade me by saying that I had virtually no chance of winning. I think it’s worth it, “says Ivanov. The collector claims in London two billion dollars in damages. 

According to him, the real objective of the English authorities was to seize all the pieces of his museum. To achieve this, an operation called “Dante” would have been set up with the help of British intelligence services: “She was supervised by an agent who worked under cover at the Consulate General of the United Kingdom in Frankfurt,” says the collector.

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CREDITS: DOCUMENTARY FRAMEWORK “FABERGE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN”

From computer vendor to Fabergé egg collector

Alexander Ivanov, a law graduate, was enriched in the mid-1980s, at the time of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika . In the USSR computers were imported and mineral (chemical) fertilizers were exported. In 1988, his profits already amounted to six million dollars, says the billionaire willingly. “Mr. Ivanov was the biggest seller of computers for state services, including the government departments  ,” said political scientist Lev Pavlioutchkov.

Alexander Ivanov estimates the value of his collection at 2 billion dollars.

In the early 1990s, Ivanov left this lucrative business sector to start buying and selling antiques. He began in the plastic arts, but quickly specialized in the items of the house of the jeweler Fabergé, which gradually become his main assets. Alexander Ivanov is not the only billionaire collecting the objects of the most famous Russian company. The oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the Renova group’s board of directors, bought in 2004 nearly 200 Fabergé objects from Malcolm Forbes’ heirs for an amount ranging from 150 to 250 million dollars. Today, Viktor Vekselberg’s collection has nearly 700 pieces worth a total of $ 350 million. Obviously, Mr. Ivanov estimates that the value of his own collection is more important ($ 2 billion). His antique colleagues are however dubious: for them, the purchase and sale of antiques can reap profits to buy Fabergé eggs for tens of millions of dollars …

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LILY OF THE VALLEY, FABERGÉ EGG, 1898. CREDITS: DOCUMENTARY FRAME “FABERGE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN”

An unprecedented case

The Russian art critic Dmitry Butkevich doubts that Mr. Ivanov will succeed in obtaining damages: “I do not know any precedent,” he says. Konstantin Babouline, director of the Art Investment portal, also prefers not to make any predictions about the outcome of the case: “This is the first time I am confronted with a confiscation of works of art on the British border. Russian collectors encounter much more often difficulties at the Russian customs. “

Alexander Ivanov, for his part, is considering the possibility that the British justice system will not consider his complaint because of the excessive amount he claims for compensation for his losses. But the Russian collector does not intend to give up: his lawyers are preparing to pursue the United Kingdom in other countries, including Germany. 

© Konstantin Manenkov / Paul Gilbert (English translation). 20 June 2018

Major Expansion of Faberge Museum in St Petersburg Announced

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This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

The size of the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg will increase fourfold by 2020, the press service of the Glavgosexpertiza of Russia has announced in a press release issued on Wednesday 18th April. 

The release notes that the project includes the adaptation of the western wing of the Naryshkin-Shuvalov Palace on the Fontanka Embankment to the existing museum-exhibition complex. “The total area of ​​the western wing of the palace will increase from 686.5 to 2318.7 square meters, and take 24 months to complete,” the report said.

According to the project approved by Glavgosexpertiza, complex repairs, restoration and adaptation of premises for museum use will be carried out in the western wing of the building. Among other things, it is planned to rework the front courtyard and the facade of the transverse wing, which were destroyed during air strikes in 1942. The project will be funded by Viktor Vekselberg and his Link of Times Foundation. 

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The mansion on the Fontanka Embankment was originally built for Count Vorontsovs, and later home to the noble Shuvalov and Naryshkin families. It was in 1799 that the Naryshkins, significantly expanded the building. The palace became the center of the Saint Petersburg society, and its grand ballroom — also known as the Alexandrovsky or White Column Hall — played host to society balls of up to 1,000 people. In 1846 Sophia Naryshkina married Peter Shuvalov, at which time the western section of the palace was significantly enlarged. After 1918, the building housed the Museum of the Nobility life, design offices, the House of Press and the House of Friendship of Peoples.

In 2006, the building was recognized as a cultural monument of federal importance and leased to Viktor Vekselberg’s Link of Times Foundation. The businessman bought Imperial Easter eggs among other Faberge items from private collections, and in 2013, after a large-scale restoration in the palace, the Faberge Museum was opened. The museum’s collection contains more than 4,000 works of decorative applied and fine arts, including gold and silver items, paintings, porcelain and bronze. A highlight of the museum’s collection is the group of nine Imperial Easter eggs created by Faberge for the last two Russian emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II.

Click HERE to read more than 100 articles and news stories about Faberge – richly illustrated with beautiful colour photographs

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 April 2018

Vladivostock Museum to Showcase Fabergé’s Trans-Siberian Railway Egg

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The Primorsky Museum (Vladivostock)

This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

On 19th March 2018, an agreement of cooperation for a period of 5 years was signed in Moscow by the director of the Primorsky Museum (Vladivostock) Victor Shalai and the Director of the Moscow Kremlin State Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve Elena Gagarina.

The first project will be the exhibition The Map of Russia – Milestones of History, which will open in September and run to the end of 2018 in the Primorsky Museum in Vladivostock. The opening will be timed to coincide with the Fourth Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held from September 11th – 13th, on the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) on Russky Island in Vladivostok.

The exhibition will be devoted to the phenomenon of Russia as the world’s largest state, the status of which it has retained since the end of the 17th century. Visitors will be able to see more than 100 exhibits from the collections of the Moscow Kremlin State Museum-Reserve. This is the first joint project between the two museums.

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Embroidered map of the Russian Empire (1872)

The main exhibit of the exhibition will be a unique work – an embroidered map of the Russian Empire, created by pupils of the Moscow School of the Order of St. Catherine in 1872, and donated to Emperor Alexander II. During his reign, Russia expanded its borders significantly, many lands were annexed in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Far East. By 1867, the Russian Empire amounted to 23,700,000 km2. This will be the first time that the map will be displayed outside the Moscow Kremlin and only the second time in history that it has been displayed in Russia. 

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Fabergé’s Trans-Siberian Railway Egg (1900)
Photo © Moscow Kremlin State Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve

Another iconic exhibit of the exhibition will be the Trans-Siberian Railway – a jewelled Easter egg made under the supervision of the Russian Court jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé.  It was created in 1900 for Emperor Nicholas II and presented as an Easter gift to his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. 

The surprise inside is a miniature clockwork replica of a steam locomotive of the Trans Siberian Railway. A route map of the Trans-Siberian Railway is engraved in silver across the face, with major stations marked by a precious stone, forming a belt around the egg. 

In 1900, the railway linking European Russia with Vladivostock on Russia’s Pacific coast was nearing completion. This was an accomplishment that, despite its tremendous cost in resources and human lives, brought Nicholas great satisfaction since, as Tsesarevich, he had travelled to the Far East to lay the eastern foundation stone.

The Trans-Siberian Railway egg is one of fifty-two Easter eggs made by Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. The Trans-Siberian Egg is one of ten Fabergé eggs in the Armoury collection of the Moscow Kremlin State Museum-Reserve. The Armoury holds the most Imperial eggs, and the second-most overall Fabergé eggs, owned by a single museum. The Trans-Siberian Egg remains one of the few Fabergé eggs that never left Russia, the others being sold off by the Soviets. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 April 2018