question: does the word FAB . . . come from FABERGE – I bet, YES !!

Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket. yellow and green gold, silver, nephrite, pearl, rose-cut diamond.
House of Faberge
Workmaster: August Wilhelm Holstrom (Finnish, 1828-1903)
Inscribed (in Russian, at bottom) to Her Imperial Majesty, Czarina Alexandra Fedorovna, from the ironworks management and dealers in the Siberian iron section of the Nijegrodski Fair in the year 1896.
Russian (Saint Petersburg), 1896
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

Height 7-1/2 in x Length 8-1/2 in.
(source of dimensions: ‘FABERGE – Fantasies & Treasures’ by Geza Von Habsburg, published by Faberge Co. 1995, USA)

“This basket is considered the most important Faberge piece in the United States and the highest achievement of the workmaster August Wilhelm Holstrom. It consists of nineteen individual stems decorated with pearls and diamonds and was presented to Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Czar Nicholas II) on the occasion of her visit to the Pan-Russian exhibition in 1896. The Czarina treasured it not only because the lily-of-the-valley was one of her favorite flowers but also because, in the language of flowers, it symbolizes domestic happiness and conjugal bliss.” – exhibit caption

Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket, FABERGE

lovers of art, history, fine materials, highly skilled craftsmanship, and design of the timeless order will be fascinated and thrilled by this small but exquisite new exhibit on long term loan at the Met.
when you enter the great hall, turn to the left (south) and walk towards the Greco-Roman displays, you can’t miss the showcases – they are on the west wall opposite the big marble staircase.

on the right: Orange Blossom Spray. Quartzite, olivine, nephrite, rock crystal, gold.
House of Faberge
Workmaster: possibly Henrik Emanuel Wigstrom (Finnish, 1862-1923)
Russian (Saint Petersburg), 1908-17
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

left: Imperial Anemones. Gold, polychrome enamel, jade, rock crystal.
House of Faberge
Workmaster: Unidentified
Russian (Saint Petersburg), prob 1899-1908
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

right: Lily-of-the-Valley. Moonstone, nephrite, rock crystal, gold
House of faberge
Workmaster: Unidentifed
Russian (saint Petersburg), prob 1908-1917
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

as a newly converted watercolorist (!!), going to graduate school in the era of large color field paintings, enough with the Agnes Martin already !! my ever-contrarian nature escaped to the wonders of Gustav Klimt, Japanese Edo period woodblock prints & the world of Faberge !! I was super fascinated esp by photos of these tiny wonders, esp the flower stems in glass ‘vases’ full of (crystal rock !!) water. forget the masking tape, huge canvas stretchers and harsh acrylic paint, give me those fine pointed sable brushes and a tablet of French hand-made Arches watercolor blocks – this is what I wanted to paint !!
how exquisitely wonderful – to finally see them in the real !!

Imperial Caucasus Egg. Yellow and quartre-couleur gold, silver, platinum, guilloche enamel, rose crystal, ivory, watercolor.
House of Faberge
Workmaster: Michael Evlampievich Perchin (Russian, 1860-1903)
Miniaturist: Konstantin Yakovlevich Krijitski (Russian, 1859-1911)
Russian (Saint Petersburg), 1873
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

“Czar Alexander III presented this egg to his wife Maria Feodorovna, created in the late (!!) LOUIS XVI style, the egg has 4 oval doors .. set (with) numeral(s) forming year 1893. Each oval door opens to reveal a miniature view of Abastuman, the Imperial hunting lodge . . . ”

Imperial Danish Palaces Egg. Green, rose and quarte-couleur gold, guilloche enamel, star sapphire, cabochon emerald, rose-cut diamond, mother of pearl, crystal, crimson silk velvet.
House of Faberge
Workmaster: Konstantin Yakovlevich Krijitski (Russian, 1859-1911)
Russian (saint Petersburg), 1890
Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation

“Czar Alexander III presented this egg to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, on Easter 1890 . . . Divided into twelve sections in opalescent (!!) pink enamel, it opens on a hinge to reveal its surprise – a folding ten panel gold screen in a crimson velvet pocket . . . (which) bears ten miniatures of the empress’s favorite Danish and Russian palaces.” – exhibit caption

detail landscape miniature – Imperial Danish Palaces Egg, House of Faberge.
the Russian Imperial family had intermarried with Danish royalty . . . I love this depiction as it really looks like – one big happy lived-in country house, as opposed to one’s standard idea of a palace !!
the sailing yacht, that precedes it – is pretty wonderful, too.

left: Green Napoleonic Egg, House of Faberge.
right: Imperial Danish Palaces Egg, House of Faberge.

of the Green Napoloenic Egg, House of Faberge, Workmaster: Henrik Emanuel Wigstrom, Miniaturist: Vassiy Ivanovich Zuiev . . “Czar Nicholas II presented it to his mother dowager Maria Feodorovna Easter 1912. It commemorated ‘the centenary’ of the Russian victory over the armies of Napoleon . . ” – exhibit caption

Photograph: DOROTHEA THORP – courtesy Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation.

Matilda came from a western – yep, we hit OIL !! big time … family. an artist herself, she acquired her first piece of Faberge in 1933, when the firm was then still unknown in the United States. (remember those days . . back in the day before google !!)

the Faberge golden eggs, with their exquisite craftsmanship and lovely gentle romantic sentiments – are quite at odds with the real-life struggles going on in the world, esp Russia at the time. forever linked to their doomed patrons, the last imperial family to rule Russia . . . these testaments to enduring beauty and accomplishment only highlight the irony of history, keeping alive a family that is poignantly noted, and yes . . all their death dates are the same: 1918.

read more: Faberge from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection – at the MET