Fabergé

Fabergé, (Peter) Carl
(1846-1920)

The Russian renowned for his artistic and imaginative creations in gold, enamelling, and gemstones, and best known for his jewelled eggs made from 1884 as Easter gifts from the Tsar to the Tsarina.

He was born in St Petersburg, studied at several European centres, and then joined the jewelry firm that his father Gustav (1814-81) had started in 1842. Upon his father’s retirement in 1870 he took over and soon, with his brother Agathon, enlarged the business. Later he was joined by his sons Eugène and Alexander.

He achieved international recognition after the Paris Exposition of 1900, and thereafter made articles for the Russian court, for Edward VII, and for other European royalty. Branches were opened in London and elsewhere, and the business grew to employ over 500 craftsmen.

Fabergé himself, although he probably designed some of the work, was not a goldsmith or enameller, but excelled in supervising the creation of the pieces as to which he required the most meticulous craftsmanship and controlled the selection of the types of stones, enamelling, and settings. Each type of work was executed in specialized workshop, and many of the pieces were signed with the marks of the individual workmasters, including, for the Easter eggs, Michael Perchin and later Henrik Wigström, and, for jewelry, Alfred Thielemann and later August Holmström.

The articles were mainly objects of vertu, such as carved animals and jewelled flowers in vases, as well as useful objects, e.g. frames, boxes, clocks, etc., but he also produced a small amount of jewelry, mainly conventional pieces (e.g. tie pins, cuff-links) reputed for the precision of their settings. He specialized in the varied use of enamels, such as work in plique à jour enamel and tour à guillocher, articles of metal of different colours, and a great variety of gemstones (often rose-cut diamonds and coloured stones cut en cabochon).

Many pieces were made in art nouveau style. The factory closed after the Revolution of 1918 and Fabergé escaped to Switzerland.

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