739: Faberge’s Eggs by Tony Faber

by Gerard

DDC_739

739.2092: Faber, Tony. Faberge’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire. New York: Random House, 2008. 241 pp. ISBN 978-1-58836-707-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 730: Plastic arts and sculpture
  • 739: Art metalwork
  • 739.2: Works in precious metals
  • 739.2092: Biography and special persons

Eggs are very plain things. But when Russian jeweler Carl Gustavovitch Faberge realized a design around them, they turned into the most sought-after pieces in modern art history. Tony Faber’s Faberge’s Eggs is not only a look into the history of the bejeweled eggs, but also a history of Russia proper. From Czar Nicholas II’s coronation in 1894 to his abdication in 1917, the eggs chronicle the czar’s relationships with his mother, his wife, his children, and his country.

Faberge’s workshop, over the course of its lifetime in Moscow, produced 69 beautifully jeweled eggs, but only 50 are considered imperial eggs. These are the pieces ordered by the czar to be given at first from Czar Alexander II to his wife Maria Fedorovna each Easter. Upon Alexander’s death, Nicholas continued the tradition, first giving them just to his mother and then to both his mother and his wife. Each egg presented had special meaning and a special name, starting with the Jeweled Hen Egg (1885) and ending with the sadly unfinished and unpresented Constellation Egg (1917). Faber not only follows the creation and presentation of each egg, but also the saga of their respective ownerships to the present day.

There are times when Faber’s writing gets bogged down with names, places, dates, and politics, but they are few and far between. Luckily, several helpful appendices are added on, including an extended royal family tree, a condensed chronology of the eggs, and a basic Russian term glossary. A few lovely color pictures in the middle of the book highlight the beauty of the eggs, and overall, this was a very pleasant read.

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