Monday: Art Object of the Week – FABERGE!

“Two Eggs…Modern”

On Easter Day, 1901, Marie Fedorovna, the widow of Alexander III, emperor of Russia, knew that she was in for a surprise. Sixteen years earlier, on the occasion of their 20th wedding anniversary, her husband had given her an enameled gold egg encrusted with jewels and precious materials from Carl Fabergé’s St. Petersburg workshop.

The tradition then continued every Easter morning. Her son Nicholas II continued the holiday tradition after his father passed away, presenting eggs to his mother and his wife. Altogether, 50 imperial Easter eggs were created during the Russian Revolution.

Visitors to the Walters Art Museum can admire the Gatchina Palace Egg, presented by Nicholas to his mother in 1901, and the Rose Trellis Egg, made for the reigning empress Alexandra in 1907.

How did these magnificent mementos make it to Baltimore?

Both remained treasures of the imperial family until 1917, but after the Revolution, they disappeared. In 1930, more than a decade later, the Walters’ building superintendent was checking the contents of a crate containing artworks Henry Walters had purchased in Paris. The manifest humbly listed two items which proved to be of extraordinary interest and value “one egg in white enamel with a ring of little enameled pearls … modern” and “one copper egg decorated with enameled roses, modern.”

“Orphaned” and unknown then, the Gatchina Palace and Rose Trellis imperial Easter Eggs have been recognized as among the greatest treasures of the Walters.