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The first definitive guide to the Royal Collection of Fabergé

Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1862-1923)

Chelsea Pensioner 1909

Purpurine, aventurine quartz, jasper, gunmetal, gold, enamel, cabochon sapphires | 11.2 x 4.5 x 2.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 40485

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Fabergé’s human figures are among the firm’s rarest creations. Around fifty are recorded and they are, after the Imperial Easter Eggs, his most important works owing to the complexity of their production. The majority are of traditional Russian types such as soldiers and ice-carriers and some are actual portraits. This model is of a typically English figure: the Chelsea Pensioner. Chelsea Pensioners are the in-pensioners of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, established by Charles II in 1682 for veteran soldiers of meritorious service. They are housed in Sir Christopher Wren’s building in Chelsea, London. The model was purchased by King Edward VII on his last visit to the London branch, 22 November 1909, at a cost of £49 15s. The face and hands are made of aventurine quartz, the coat is of purpurine, the legs and hat are of jasper and the cane, buttons and medals are of gold. Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection