Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fabergé Eggs: History and Activities for Kids

The Regis Galerie inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Easter is a time of great celebration in the Orthodox faith in Russia.  Many families gather to exchange beautiful gifts of decorated eggs to show a sign of hope and renewed life.  This is a Russian tradition that has been carried on for over a hundred years. 

In 1894, Nicholas II became the Russian Czar after his father died.  Nicholas II continued to follow his father's customs and traditions by commissioning an annual Fabergé Easter Egg.  This time he decided to commission one for his mother and a second one for his new wife Czarina Alexandra Fedorovna.   

Lilly of the Valley Egg presented to the Czarina Alexandra at Easter in 1898.

Peter Carl Fabergé was a young jeweler who created a unique enameled egg every year for the Czar.  Fabergé elevated jewelry to a new decorative art form to be appreciated by many.  Fabergé became known throughout Europe and his goldsmith shop was transformed into a 'House of Faberge."

Peter Carl Fabergé
During the Russian Revolution in 1917, the "House of Fabergé" was ransacked by the Bolsheviks and Fabergé and his family fled Russia.  Most of the Fabergé eggs were packed in crates and taken to the Kremlin Armoury.  Later in 1927, the eggs were appraised and sold to the West to finance the Bolshevik government.  The eggs were undervalued and some were originally sold for four to five hundred dollars.  It took several decades for the eggs to gain recognition as magnificent works or art.

Russian Imperial Egg of Czar Nicholas II and Family

There are only fifty Imperial eggs in the world, only ten remain in the Kremlin, and eight Imperial eggs are still missing.  The "Coronation Egg" is the most popular of the the collection.  This egg measures five inches tall and contains gold, small diamonds, and the surprise in this egg is the miniature coronation coach.  The highly detailed coach took over 15 months to fabricate with platinum wheels, red enamel for the upholstery and etched glass for the windows.  To complete the design, the entire coach is surmounted by an Imperial crown with rose diamonds.

Coronation Egg

In 2004, Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg purchased a collection of nine eggs, and another 190 items from the Forbes family to be estimated at $90 million.  Vekselberg agreed with the Vatican in Italy to host a display of precious works by Faberge this Easter.  The exhibition is scheduled to open on April 14, 2011. 

Viktor Vekselberg

Activities for Kids:
Crayola (Russian Imperial Eggs) 

Other Activities:
Martha Stewart Faberge Egg Ornaments

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