SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 27, 2013

An empire of luxury

Faberge's fortunes rose and fell with the Russian tsar

Faberge eggs have always made a strong first impression.

Czar Alexander III gave the first one to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, in 1885, and she was so delighted by its rubies, gold and ingenious construction that the exchange of Faberge eggs became an Easter tradition in the royal family.

Visitors to “Faberge Revealed,” the new exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, can get a sense of Maria’s reaction when they see the Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg, the first item in the show.

Created in 1903 from gold, platinum, diamonds, rubies, sapphire, ivory and crystal, it is one of only 50 imperial eggs that Faberge created, 42 of which are still known to exist.

“These, of course, were the most spectacular products of the House of Faberge — and among the most beautiful art objects ever created,” said Dean Lahikainen, curator of American decorative art at the PEM.

But if the many exquisite works in this show leave a lasting impression, it is also because of the story of their production and the bloody times in which they were created.

The House of Faberge produced an estimated 150,000 items in its 35 years of existence, generating around $175 million a year in business, Lahikainen said. And every item they created was unique.

More than 230 of these appear in the exhibit, all from the Lillian Thomas Pratt collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which has the largest Faberge collection in the United States.

In addition to four imperial Easter eggs, the exhibit includes a range of utilitarian items like snuff boxes and parasol handles, tankards, cups and serving dishes. There are also cases filled with miniature carvings of animals inspired by Japanese netsuke, made from silver or semiprecious stones native to Russia.

“They were whimsical creations, things to delight, to put on a shelf and enjoy,” Lahikainen said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle
  • North Shore religion calendar Saturday, April 19 Easter Bunny Breakfast & Egg Hunt, 10 a.m. to noon, Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church, 323 Locust St., Danvers. The youth groups of Northshore and Beverly Unitarian Universalist churches will hold an Easter breakfast and egg

    April 19, 2014

  • North Shore religion news in brief The Rev. Marya DeCarlen has been named the new, full-time priest in charge at All Saints Episcopal Church of the North Shore in Danvers. DeCarlen's ministry with the parish begins Sunday, April 27. Her appointment comes after the church's yearlong in

    April 19, 2014

  • Dear Abby: Teenage girl’s boyish figure is often deceiving to others Dear Abby: I'm a 14-year-old girl with a problem. Because of my buzzed short hair, slim hips and flat chest, I frequently get mistaken for a boy. It really bothers me because, despite my haircut and body shape, I have a feminine face and I wear women

    April 19, 2014

  • This weekend's Best Bets Best Bets for Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20

    Looking for something to do this weekend? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Vet Connection: Is it OK to give a dog a bone? We have all seen the cartoons and commercials depicting dogs burying bones and stashing them away for later. Unfortunately, most pet owners are completely unaware of the significant risks and problems that are associated with feeding dogs these treat

    April 18, 2014

  • Ask Dog Lady: Why is my dog fascinated with burying things? Dear Dog Lady, My dog came across a dead cat at the park and proceeded to bury the cat with surrounding leaves by using her nose and pushing the leaves over the dead cat. Two days later, we went back to the park, and she found the dead cat again and

    April 18, 2014

  • ed Ipswich author to share drawing techniques Most of Ed Emberley's 80 children's books, 20 of which are still in print, have one goal in mind. "Showing the kids you can draw; everybody can draw something," he said. "They get encouragement from working with the simplest thing." Emberley will giv

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • holtenhouse Quick pick 'Voices From the Back Stairs' Jennifer Pustz of Historic New England presents "Voices From the Back Stairs" tomorrow at 2, at the Judge Samuel Holten House, 171 Holten St., Danvers. In her presentation, Pustz explores domestic service in 19th- and 20

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dear Abby: Assistant’s gruff attitude needs to be smoothed out Dear Abby: How do I deal with an assistant who keeps calling me a "brown-noser"? She did it again yesterday at a staff meeting in front of my boss and another assistant. It was the third time she has said it. She is gruff and rude, and several people

    April 18, 2014

  • Friday's Best Bets Best Bets for Friday, April 18

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

NDN Video
Comments Tracker