An exhibition exploring the international connections of Russian master jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé is opening this month at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
Curated by Kieran McCarthy and Hanne Faurby, Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution showcases more than 200 jewels created by the craftsman at the Russian Imperial Court. They include the 1887 lion-pawed, Louis XVI-style Third Imperial Egg, which was believed to be lost for more than a century, until a scrap metal dealer found it at a flea market in the Midwestern US. The buyer initially hoped to make a small profit by melting the gold — before he took it, in 2014, to a Fabergé expert to check its origin.
In its exploration of Fabergé’s international success, the exhibition is particularly focused on his relationships with the UK, where he opened a branch in 1903, in addition to his studios in Moscow and Kyiv. Fabergé’s works with British roots include a gold figurine of King Edward’s fox terrier Caesar, commissioned by the monarch himself.
The House of Fabergé rose to fame at the turn of the century, thanks to the intricately designed Easter eggs that Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II gifted to their wives and mothers. Each Imperial egg was elaborately bejewelled and had a tiny “surprise” within, which could be as simple as a fashionable watch or an elegant swan figurine, or as complex as a clockwork miniature of a steam locomotive to glorify the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Today, the house has a British owner: Brian Gilbertson’s Pallinghurst Group, under whom Fabergé created a Game of Thrones egg, launched on Net-a-Porter earlier this year, in March.