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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Mosaic Egg

Overview

Creator: August Wilhelm Holmström (1829-1903) (workmaster)
Creation Date: 
1914
Materials: 
Gold, platinum, enamel, rose and brilliant diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, quartz, sapphires, garnets, moonstone
Dimensions: 
9.5 x 7.0 cm
RCIN 
9022
Reference(s): 
XQGF 1985 II 79
XQGF 1985 I 164
XQGF 1995 252
XQG 1962 Treas 61
XQGF 2003 3
XQG 2002 206
Acquirer: Queen Mary, consort of King George V, King of the United Kingdom (1867-1953), when Queen Consort (1910-36)
Provenance: 
Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Easter 1914; confiscated by the provisional government, 1917; sold by the Antikvariat, 1933 (5,000 roubles), probably to Armand Hammer. Purchased by King George V from Cameo Corner, 1933, (£250), probably for Queen Mary's birthday, 26 May.
Description:

Technically one of the most sophisticated and extraordinary of Fabergé’s Imperial Easter Eggs, the Mosaic Egg retains its ‘surprise’. It takes the form of a medallion painted on ivory with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra on one side and a basket of flowers and their names on the other, on a stand surmounted by the Russian imperial crown, held within the egg by gold clips. The egg was the Tsar’s Easter gift to his wife in 1914, but the original invoice was destroyed and the cost is therefore unknown. The Tsarina’s monogram and the date 1914 are set beneath a moonstone at the apex of the egg. It comprises a platinum mesh into which tiny diamonds, rubies, topaz, sapphires, demantoid garnets, pearls and emeralds are fitted – perfectly cut, polished and calibrated to fill the spaces.This extraordinary technical feat is all the more impressive because the platinum is not welded but cut.The five oval panels around the centre of the egg feature a stylised floral motif, replicating the technique of petit-point. In the list of confiscated treasures transferred from the Anichkov Palace to the Sovnarkom in 1922, the egg is described thus: ‘1 gold egg as though embroidered on canvas’. The designer, Alma Theresia Pihl, was inspired to produce the needlework motif when watching her mother-in-law working at her embroidery by the fire. Alma Pihl came from a distinguished family of Finnish jewellers employed by Fabergé. Her uncle, Albert Holmström, took over his father August’s workshop and was the workmaster responsible for the production of this bejewelled egg. The egg was confiscated in 1917 and sold by the Antikvariat in 1933 for 5,000 roubles. It was purchased by King George V from Cameo Corner, London, on 22 May 1933 for £250 ‘half-cost’, probably for Queen Mary’s birthday on 26 May.

Engraved on the egg C. Fabergé Engraved on the pedestal of the surprise G. Fabergé

Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

Further details

Additional Creators: Pihl, Alma Theresia (designer)
Fabergé (jeweller)
Category: 
Fabergé