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Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923)

Imperial presentation box  1916

Two-colour gold, guilloché enamel, brilliant and rose-cut diamonds | 3.2 x 9.5 x 6.4 cm | RCIN 19128

  • Gem-set presentation boxes set with a miniature portrait of the Tsar or the imperial couple were presented as remuneration for service rendered or, in the case of foreign recipients, as a demonstration of good relations between the two nations. This box was one of the last imperial presentation boxes ever to have been given on behalf of the Tsar. It was made in Wigström’s workshop, where it was completed on 30 September 1916. It is richly decorated in dark green guilloché enamel, the gold beneath the enamel engraved in a radiating sunburst design, edged with oyster-coloured enamel and richly set with ten brilliant-cut diamonds in circular mounts and two borders of rose-cut diamonds. In the centre of the lid is a miniature of Tsar Nicholas II by the court miniaturist Vassily Zuiev; the radiating guilloché enamel emanating from the miniature emphasises the status and power of the Tsar. Nicholas II wears the uniform of the 4th Imperial Family Rifle Guards and the Order of St George, which he received on 25 October 1915. The ledgers in the imperial cabinet archives reveal that the miniature was allocated on 5 May 1917, almost two months after theTsar’s abdication. The recipient was a member of the French Academy, Gabriel Hanotaux (1853–1944), to whom the box was presented by Grand Duke Nicholas (first cousin once removed of Nicholas II) on behalf of the Tsar. Hanotaux was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1894 and 1898 under President Faure and developed the rapprochement between France and Russia. It is notable that, in spite of the political turmoil in Russia, this box managed to reach its intended recipient. Queen Mary acquired it and gave it to King George V on his birthday, 3 June 1934. Mark of Henrik Wigström; gold mark of 72 zolotniks (1908-17); Fabergé in Cyrillic characters Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection

    Provenance

    Presented on behalf of Nicholas II to Gabriel Hanotaux by the former Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, 1917; acquired by Queen Mary and given to King George V on his birthday 3 June 1934
  • Creator(s)

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    Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923) (workmaster)

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    Vassily Zuiev (1870-c. 1917) (miniaturist)

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    Fabergé (jeweller) [

    The House of Fabergé was the greatest Russian jewellery firm of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  It is most famous today for the spectacular Imperial Easter Eggs produced for the Russian royal family, but almost six hundred of its other creations are also represented in the Royal Collection. These include exquisite animal sculptures, cigarette cases and presentation boxes, as well as flower carvings, photograph frames and jewellery.

    Fabergé pieces largely entered the Collection as gifts exchanged by the Russian, Danish and British royal families.  Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, frequently received Fabergé works as birthday and Christmas presents from her sister, Tsarina Marie Feodorovna of Russia.  King Edward VII meanwhile expanded the collection by commissioning portrait sculptures of his favourite pets and other animals on the Sandringham Estate.

    Although the Russian Revolution forced the Fabergé firm's closure in 1918, royal fascination with its work endured.  In the 1930s, King George V and Queen Mary purchased the three Imperial Easter Eggs now in the Collection – the Basket of Flowers Egg, the Colonnade Egg and the Mosaic Egg.  Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother also formed an outstanding collection of flower sculptures, ornaments and boxes.

    The House of Fabergé was founded in 1842 in St Petersburg, by Gustav Fabergé, a master goldsmith of French extraction.  After 1872, his son, Peter Carl, took over the running of the firm and quickly transformed it into a large enterprise with several separate workshops.  It became renowned for its intricate hardstone carvings and for the use of precious stones and transparent (guilloché) enamel to embellish coloured gold.  Under Carl Fabergé, three of the very best craftsmen were promoted to the position of head workmaster.  Pieces by Erik Kollin (1872-1886), Michael Perchin (1886-1903) and Henry Wigström (1903-1917) are all represented in the Royal Collection.

    In 1885, the firm was awarded a warrant as official supplier to the imperial court.  It was also in this year that the Tsar commissioned the first Imperial Easter Egg, starting an annual tradition which would showcase some of the firm's most inventive and sophisticated craftsmanship.  A London branch was opened in 1900 under the management of H.C. Bainbridge, and quickly became a favourite haunt of the British royal family and their circle.  At its peak, the Fabergé business employed almost five hundred craftsmen.

    ]

    Acquirer(s)

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    King George V, King of the United Kingdom (1865-1936)

    Commissioner(s)

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    Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, 1st son of Alexander III, Emperor of Russia (1868-1918)

    Subject(s)

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    Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, 1st son of Alexander III, Emperor of Russia (1868-1918)

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    Romanov, House of

  • Medium & Techniques

    Two-colour gold, guilloché enamel, brilliant and rose-cut diamonds

    gold, enamel, diamond

    mounted, chased, brilliant cut, rose cut, watercolour painting

    Dimensions

    3.2 x 9.5 x 6.4 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative titles

    Formerly known as the Trepov Box