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August Wilhelm Holmström (1829-1903)

Powder box  1896 - 1903

Silver-gilt and guilloché enamel mounted with two-colour gold and rose diamond | 2.0 x 10.0 x 4.5 cm | RCIN 40115

  • Rectangular powder box and spatula, both in opalescent oyster guilloché enamel, strap mounts of red and green gold chased with laurel borders, three hinged lids, all with rose diamond thumbpieces; interior with six compartments and a looking glass. Mark of August Holmström; silver mark of 88 zolotniks (1896-1908); Fabergé in Cyrillic characters

    Provenance

    Presented to Queen Mary by the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley, 1936
  • Creator(s)

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    August Wilhelm Holmström (1829-1903) (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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    Acquirer(s)

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    Queen Mary, consort of George V, King of the United Kingdom (1867-1953)

  • Medium & Techniques

    Silver-gilt and guilloché enamel mounted with two-colour gold and rose diamond

    silver, oyster enamel, diamond

    enamelled, rose cut

    Dimensions

    2.0 x 10.0 x 4.5 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative titles

    Powder box (and spatula)