Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Imperial presentation box
XQGF 2003 144
In January 1946 Queen Elizabeth purchased from Wartski one of the most elegant of the imperial presentation boxes, in terms of design and the extraordinary effect of the colour and depth of the guilloché enamel. Emmanuel Snowman, proprietor of the firm, wrote to the Queen in August 1946: ‘I would just like to add how delighted I am that the beautiful mauve enamel Fabergé box has gone into your Majesty’s collection, I think it is one of the finest specimens I have ever seen.’ The working drawing for the box, produced in the workshop of Henrik Wigström, reveals it was originally set with the diamond cipher of the Tsar. Once the box was selected for presentation to the intended recipient – in this case Artur Germanovich Rafalovich, a privy counsellor and member of the finance council in Russia – the central plaque was exchanged for the sovereign’s portrait miniature. It was presented to Rafalovich by Tsar Nicholas II in 1915. The portrait was painted by Vassily Zuiev, and shows the Tsar wearing the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Regiment and the Russian Orders of St Andrew and St Vladimir and the Danish Order of the Dannebrog, among other medals. The original cost price of boxes of this type could range as high as 4,000 roubles, depending on the material used, the precious stones mounted on it and the weight of the gold. Design and workmanship counted for less as labour costs were very low.
Mark of Henrik Wigström; gold mark of 72 zolotniks (1908-17)
Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection