The House of Fabergé manufactured jewelry
of the most exquisite design, religious objects,
small useful objects such as picture frames,
seals, cigarette cases, cigarette holders, belt
buckles, letter openers, even gum pots, as well
as objet d'art: tea sets, figurines, silver
flatware, crystal and, of course, the Eggs.
Having read a number of books about Fabergé
and his work, I had noticed a strange thing.
None of the authors had ever committed himself
to positively identifying the designer of any
of the Eggs. It puzzled me. I knew about the
workmasters and that they actually did the work
on the Eggs, I knew that gilders did the gilding
and that goldsmiths did the engraving and the
chasing but always in my mind was the question--who
designed these exquisite things and could they
all have been designed by just one person?
When I met Tatiana Fabergé the very
first questions I put to her was, 'Who was the
designer of the Eggs? Was it Fabergé
himself? Did he create all of the Egg designs?'
Her answer was that her father had told her
that her great grandfather had designed some
but not all. Others in the firm were involved
as well and some were the result of the combined
creativity of more than one or two people. She
told me that in her book I could see copies
of the paperwork for many of the Eggs and it
would provide answers to many of my questions.
She told me that when she went to Russia to
do the research for the book, it was the first
time the Russian Government had permitted anyone
access to the files and paperwork they had seized
so many years before. Because her name was Fabergé
they gave her complete access to all of the
long stored company files and records. The result
of this was we now have information that simply
had not been available to any of those who had
written about Fabergé prior to 1992 when
Tatiana Fabergé and her co-authors wrote
'The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs.'
At the height of the firm's success there were
more than 500 artisans in their employ who made
these incredibly beautiful objects. Every single
thing that was made under the auspices of Fabergé,
no matter how simple, was given their complete
attention and ended by being the very finest
of what ever it was. Among their many workmasters
were several whose work has become so well known
that they have gained renown in their own right.
Mikhail Perkhin was workmaster for sixteen
of the eggs, including the following:
Danish Palaces Egg Rosebud Egg, Coronation Egg,
·Renaissance Egg, Lily of the Valley
Egg, Pansy Egg, Clover Egg, Trans-Siberian Railway
Egg, Peter the Great Egg.
August Holmstrom was workmaster for two eggs:
Diamond Trellis Egg, and the Mosaic Egg.
Henrik Wigstrom was workmaster for eight Eggs:
Rose Trellis Egg, Cradle with Garlands Egg,
Peacock Egg, Alexander Palace Egg, Standart
Egg, Red Cross Egg, Napoleonic Egg, Steel Military
Albert Holmstrom, the son of August, was workmaster
for three Eggs:
The Winter Egg, Romanov Tercentenary Egg, Grisaille
They worked in many different mediums including
rock crystal, nephrite, jade, chalcedony, jasper
agate, obsidian, lapis lazuli, silver, many
colors of gold, platinum, pearls, and of course,
the finest quality gemstones. Fabergé's
pièce de résistence was enamel
guilloché. They took a technique that
had been in use for many years and developed
it into something much, much more than what
it had been. Using translucent enamels in more
than 150 different tints and shades and their
own techniques of engraving in 120 different
patterns they made enamel guilloché synonymous
with the name of Fabergé.
The House of Fabergé continued to grow
and prosper through the years until the onset
of the Revolution in 1917, when all of their
assets were seized by the Bolshevist government
who closed the company down. Many of the employees
were lost in the terrible times during the Revolution.
Several of the workmasters fled to their own
countries, i.e. Wigstrom, Holmstrom father and
son. Peter Carl Fabergé escaped Russia,
went first to Germany and then to Switzerland.
He never adjusted to life away from Russia and
died in September of 1920 at the age of 74.
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