Catherine the Great Faberge Egg

Catherine the Great Faberge Egg

Catherine the Great Faberge Egg

There are two Faberge eggs at Hillwood Museum. The other one is Faberge Twelve Monogram Egg

The Egg “Catherine the Great” (also known as “Grisaille”) was made for the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. That year, 1914, work on both Imperial Easter eggs was overseen by Ivan Antoni.

From an entry in a Faberge account book: “Large Egg of chased quatre-couleur gold with fretwork in the style of Louis XVI over an enamel ground with 8 medallions painted ‘en grisaille’ over a pink ground on the theme of ‘arts and sciences’; with 2 brilliant diamonds, 1,008 rose-cut diamonds, 509 pearls; one brilliant diamond covering Her Majesty Maria Fedorovna’s monogram, the other over the year 1914. Inside the Egg a ‘chaise à porteurs’ in enameled gold, windows of rock crustal, with an enamel figure of the Empress Catherine II seated inside. The ‘chaise à porteurs’ is borne by two mechanical blackamoors worked in enamel.”

The miniatures with allegorical scenes of the arts are painted in the style of the French engraver and decorator François Boucher (1703-1770). The stand of the Egg is made of gold. The sedan has small windows of rock crystal, offering a view of Catherine II. The Empress wears a mantle trimmed with ermine, done in white enamel. The sedan itself is decorated with chased and engraved gold. The black servants are dressed in bright liveries of red enamel, with turbans on their heads. The surprise is mechanical; when set in motion, the servants slowly move their feet and the sedan rolls on small wheels.

The mechanical sedan was sold separately by the Soviet government and was thought to be lost, until it turned up at Christie’s Geneva auction on November 13, 1985. The mechanical “Sedan with two Moors, bearing the Empress Catherine the Great” from the collection of Sir Charles Clore was sold for 1,430,000 Swiss francs.

View this egg in person at Hillwood Museum & Gardens in Washington DC.


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