For the first time ever in Hong Kong, Fabergé eggs are on display. The Moscow Kremlin Museums and Fersman Mineralogical Museum of Russia have loaned four eggs and more than 200 other items created by the famous master jeweller and goldsmith, Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), to the Heritage Museum.
The exhibition spotlights more than 200 items, each a testament to its craftsman’s prowess. The first Fabergé egg was commissioned in 1885 by Tsar Alexander III to give as a gift to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. She was so enthralled by the exquisite piece that the Tsar commissioned another the following year. Of the 50 Easter eggs leading jeweller and goldsmith Fabergé created for the royal family from 1885 to 1917, 42 are known to have survived.
Four Fabergé eggs appear in this exquisite show. They include the Trans-Siberian Train Easter Egg, with a route map engraved across the face of the egg, with major stations marked by a precious stone. Inside is a miniature train crafted of platinum and gold which can be set in motion using a tiny gold key to wind the mechanism.
Also on display is the Moscow Kremlin Easter Egg, the tallest and most ambitious of all of the Imperial Fabergé eggs, made from gold, silver, onyx and enamel. This was given by the Tsar to the Tsarina at Easter in 1906 and represents Uspensky Cathedral, where the tsars of Russia were crowned. It also holds a tiny music box that plays two traditional Easter hymns.
The Memory of Azov Easter Egg also has a built-in surprise: a miniature replica of the Imperial Russian Navy cruiser. It is skilfully executed down to the smallest details including tiny platinum boats, anchors on chains, and cobweb-thin golden ropes on masts. The egg commemorates the journey Tsar Alexander III’s sons took to the Far East, including Hong Kong, in 1890-91.
The unfinished Constellation Tsarevich Easter Egg was made to commemorate crown prince Tsarevich Alexei. He was the family’s main hope for the dynasty’s continuation. The outbreak of the Russian Revolution marked the end of the Romanov royal family, though. The egg’s upper half is a dark blue cobalt glass orb displaying Northern Hemisphere constellations, and the stars on it were to be made of diamonds.
The Fabergé Easter eggs on display are undoubtedly the highlight of this exhibition, but they are accompanied by 200 other rare and exceptional artworks and pieces of jewellery in a variety of precious metals and stones that bear witness to the fine craftsmanship of the former Russian Empire.
- The standard ticket price is HK$20 (HK$10 on Wednesday) and concessions are HK$10 (HK$5 on Wednesday)
- The exhibition runs until April 29, 2013 at the Heritage Museum at 1 Man Lam Road in Sha Tin, Hong Kong
- The total collection of 270 items from the two Moscow museums is estimated to be worth over US$1 billion. According to this SCMP article, most of the funding for the HK$10 million exhibition came from an anonymous Russian donor, with some from the Hong Kong government
- For those interested in the value of the eggs, here’s a little perspective: in 2007, the Rothschild Egg, featuring a diamond-encrusted cockerel which emerges from within, flaps its wings and crows, sold for £8.9m (that’s 109.5m HKD), breaking auction records for the most expensive timepiece, Russian item and Fabergé item all at once