THE SPRING FLOWERS EGG: A FABERGÉ GOLD, PLATINUM, ENAMEL, HARDSTONE AND JEWELED EASTER EGG,WORKMASTER MICHAEL PERCHIN, ST. PETERSBURG, PRE- 1899
translucent strawberry red over a guilloché ground
and applied with neorococo gold scrolls and foliage, opening
along a vertical diamond-set seam to reveal a removable diamond-set
platinum miniature basket of wood anemones, the flowers with
chalcedony petals and demantoid pistils, the egg fastening at
the top by means of a diamond-set clasp, the lobed bowenite
base with a diamond-set girdle and with a gold rim pierced with
neorococo shell work and scrolls, marked with Cyrillic initials
of workmaster, Fabergé in Cyrillic and assay mark of
56 standard for 14 karat gold, also with scratched inventory
number 44374 or possibly 44474.
The Spring Flowers Egg, hallmarked with head workmaster Michael Perchin's “early” mark, is struck with the St. Petersburg's assay mark for before 1899 and appears to bear a scratched number 443 (or 4) 74, which may or may not be Fabergé's inventory number. Its original fitted case is stamped with Fabergé's Imperial Warrant and the addresses of St. Petersburg, Moscow and London. These facts seem to be in apparent contradiction. The hallmark dates the egg to before 1899, the original case to after 1903, after the opening of the London Branch. Inventory numbers do not generally appear on Imperial eggs.
A list of objects dated 14-20 September 1917 transferred from
the Dowager Empress's Anichkov Palace to the Kremlin Armory
and signed by Major-General Yerechov,
1 mentions a “purse of gilt silver in the form
of an egg covered with red enamel, with a sapphire” and,
separately, “a basket of flowers with diamonds,” which
probably correspond to this egg and its surprise. It was sold
by the State firm Antikvariat in charge of the disposals of
Russian Imperial treasure, to an unspecified buyer in 1933
for 2,000 rubles ($1,000), later sold by A La Vieille Russie
to the Long Island collector Lansdell Christie, and again
by the same New York dealers to Malcolm Forbes as an Imperial
egg in 1966. It was exhibited as an Imperial Easter egg twice
at the Metropolitan Museum in 1961 and 1996 and at the seminal
exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1977, and,
up to 1993 has been published by all leading specialists,
including Bainbridge (1949), Snowman (1962, 1963, 1964, 1972),
Habsburg (1979, 1987, 1993, 1996), Solodkoff (1979, 1984,
1988, 1995) and Hill (1989) as part of the series of Imperial
eggs. Recently, Muntian (1995) and Fabergé/Proler/Skurlov
(1997) have excluded the Spring Flowers Egg from the list
of presents made by the last two Tsars. Muntian, based on
the 1917 inventory of the Anichkov Palace, now believes that
it belonged to the Dowager Empress and assumes that it was
presented to her by a relative or close friend.
With its decoration of scrolls and rocaille, the Spring Flowers
Egg is a typical example of Michael Perchin's early Neo-Rococo
style, probably dating from the late 1880s or early 1890s.
This date is borne out by the early form of Perchin's initials.
Inexplicably, the basket of wild anemonies in this early egg
is virtually identical to the surprise contained in the Winter
Egg designed by Alma Pihl for Albert Holmström in 1913.
1. Kremlin Archive, Section
Manuscripts, Engravings and Prints,ORGPF, GIKMZ, fond 20,
op, 1917 published by Tatiana Muntian, “Fabergé im
Kreml” in Solodkoff 1995 , p. 25.