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Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923)

The Colonnade Egg  1910

Bowenite, four-colour gold, silver-gilt, platinum, guilloché enamel, rose diamonds | 28.6 x 17.0 cm | RCIN 40084

  • This Imperial Easter Egg – which incorporates a rotary clock in its design, the movement supplied to Fabergé by Henry Moser & Cie – is in the form of a classical temple. The colonnade of pale green bowenite columns supports the pink guilloché enamelled egg, surmounted by a cupid. Below a pair of platinum doves sits on a truncated column and around the base four female silver-gilt cherubs hold garlands of roses in red, white, green and yellow gold. This Easter egg is an allegory of the imperial family in 1910. The enduring love between the Tsar and Tsarina is represented by the pair of doves; their four daughters, Olga (b. 1895), Tatiana (b. 1897), Maria (b. 1899) and Anastasia (b. 1901) – collectively known by their parents as OTMA – are represented by the four cherubs; and the Tsarevich Alexis (b. 1904) is represented by the cupid. Early photographs of the egg and a description of it in a Fabergé album of the Imperial Easter Eggs presented to Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna between 1907 and 1916 show that the cupid originally held an arrow in his hand to point to the hour. The egg was the Tsar’s gift to Tsarina Alexandra for Easter 1910 and cost 11,600 roubles. In 1917 it was confiscated from the Anichkov Palace, and in 1922 it was transferred to the Sovnarkom. The dealer Emanuel Snowman brought it to London and, according to a manuscript annotation by Queen Mary in her copy of Bainbridge’s autobiography, Twice Seven, it was acquired by her in 1931 and given to King George V. Mark of Henrik Wigström; gold mark of 56 zolotniks (1908-17); Fabergé in Cyrillic characters Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002

    Provenance

    Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Easter 1910; confiscated by the provisional government, 1917; transferred to the Sovnarkom by 1922; Emmanuel Snowman; acquired by Queen Mary and given to King George V, 1931
  • Creator(s)

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    Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923) (workmaster)

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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.

    ]

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    Henry Moser and Cie (clockmaker)

    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)

  • Medium & Techniques

    Bowenite, four-colour gold, silver-gilt, platinum, guilloché enamel, rose diamonds

    gold, pink enamel, white enamel, bowenite, red gold, yellow gold, diamond, green gold, white gold, platinum

    engraved (incised), cast, chased, rose cut, enamelled

    Dimensions

    28.6 x 17.0 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative titles

    Colonnade Egg Clock