LONDON auction house Sotheby’s is accepting online bids until July 11 for a trove of objets d’art from imperial and then revolutionary Russia, with a special focus on Fabergé.
The House of Fabergé gave its name to Fabergé eggs, bejeweled Easter eggs presented to the last two Empresses of Russia: the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark), and her daughter-in-law, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (formerly Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt). The first Fabergé egg, a gold egg covered in white enamel, was presented to Maria Feodorovna by her husband, contained a golden hen inside. Upon her husband’s death, her son, Nicholas II, ordered two eggs from Fabergé every year until the Russian Revolution. More than that, the house supplied royal families (connected as they were by blood and marriage to the Romanovs) with several trinkets like jewels, picture frames, boxes, and cigarette cases.
After the revolution, the Fabergé family were first imprisoned, and their workshops turned over to the Soviets. The surviving Fabergés escaped out of Russia, and established their businesses somewhere else, but never again reached the same level of fame as when they supplied the Russian Imperial Court. The name survives today, passing through several hands, and the house makes miniature jeweled eggs. Still, the name still has some pull, if one judges from the thousands of pounds of the estimate prices of the Fabergé items at the auction.
The highest estimate at the auction — which is called “Fabergé, Imperial & Revolutionary Works of Art” — is, however, not for one of the famed eggs, but for a silver-gilt, cloisonné and en plein pictorial enamel casket by Feodor Rückert, with an estimate price between £180,000 to £250,000 (P12,642,093.51 to P17,558,463.20*).
The most expensive Fabergé item in this auction is also not an egg, but rather a gem-set silver imperial presentation casket, dated 1902. The casket is studded with cabochon jewels including rubies, amethysts, garnet, emerald, quartz, moonstone, tourmaline, and mother of pearl. Coming from an American collection, the box was acquired by the grandfather of the present owner in the 20th century. The box itself had been presented by Czar Nicholas II to the former president of France, Emile Loubet, during a 1902 state visit. This lot is estimated to sell for between £100,000 to £150,000 (P7,023,385.28 to P10,535,077.92).
There are quite a few Filipinos with that kind of coin, but for more “budget-friendly” Fabergé pieces, up for auction is a gold-mounted rhodonite egg pendant, valued between £2,000 to £3,000 (P140,467.71 to P210,701.56). There’s also a locket with a lid in gold, covered by Fabergé’s signature guilloché enamel in pale blue, with a rose-cut diamond in the center. This is valued at £3,000 to £5,000 (P210,701.56 to P351,169.26).
To place bids, sign up for an account at https://www.sothebys.com/. — Joseph L. Garcia
* Calculated using an exchange rate of P70.23 to £1.