Fabergé and the Russian Craft Tradition at the Walters Art Museum

After seeing Anastasia the Musical in New York City, the following Saturday we took in The Fabergé and Russian Crafts Tradition: An Empire’s Legacy exhibition at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

This was quite the coincidence considering we booked our tickets for Anastasia before learning of the exhibit. I guess you could say was destiny on our “Journey to the Past”.The Fabergé exhibition “invites visitors to consider the broader historical context from which the House of Fabergé emerged” and features 70 works that illustrate the artistry of Russian tradition crafts by Fabergé and other artists of the Romanov time. The exhibition includes two Fabergé Easter eggs that are a part of the Walters’ collection:  the Gatchina Palace Egg and the Rose Trellis Egg.

Here are some of my favourite items from the exhibit:

The Daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra, ca. 1915.
Left to right: Maria, Anastasia, Olga, and Tatiana (seated)Oval Box with Monogram of Tsar Nicholas II, early 20th century.
Peter Carl Fabergé and Henrik Emanuel Wigström (workmaster)“OTMA” Portrait Diamond Necklace, ca. 1914
Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia nicknamed themselves “OTMA”. Rare, flat-cut diamonds, known as portrait diamonds, cover and protect the delicate watercolour miniatures that were painted from formal court photographs taken in 1914.Rose Trellis Egg, 1907
Peter Carl Fabergé and Henrik Emanuel Wigström (workmaster)
The Rose Trellis Egg was given by Nicholas II to his wife Alexandra to commemorate the birth of their only son, and heir, Alexei Nicholaevich in 1904. It originally contained a diamond necklace with a medallion and miniature, now lost, of His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Tsarevich Alexei Nicholaevich.
Roses, a symbol of love, had been associated with the nobility since Catherine the Great. Those depicted are one of Alexandra’s favourites: the Baronne Adolphe de Rothchild rose. Keeping with Russian tradition, there are 49 blossoms on the egg, an uneven number that would have been seen as lucky.Box with a Miniature of Viktor Vasnetsov’s Warrior at the Crossroads (1882), 1907-1917
Fedor Ivanovich Rückert for the House of Fabergé
Teapot, 1899-1908
Nikolai Vasilevich Alexseev
This teapot is set in the Chinoiserie style, which appropriated Chinese or Pseudo-Chinese motifs as interpreted through Western eyes. Chinoiserie was in vogue from the mid-17th century through to the end of the 19th century.Gatchina Palace Egg, 1901
Peter Carl Fabergé
The Gatchina Palace Egg was commissioned as an Easter gift to his mother, Maria Feodorovna, by the last Romanov tsar, Nicholas II. Along with the other 49 Imperial Easter Eggs, it showcases the exceptional skills of Peter Carl Fabergé’s team of gem cutters, enamelers, metalsmiths, and designers. The tiny model of the Gatchina Palace inside the egg is rendered in gold, alloyed with different metals to create a range of colours. Even lamp posts are depicted in miniature, while windows are glazed in rock crystal.

Today,  100 years after the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the violent end of more than 300 years of Romanov rule, the House of Fabergé still exists today, and remains legendary and synonymous with Russia’s extraordinary artistic talent.

If you’re in Baltimore, I highly suggest you visit the Walters Art Museum – and if you like Russian art and/or have an interest in Russian history, specifically the Romanov dynasty, you should definitely take the time to see the Fabergé exhibit.

The Fabergé and the Russian Crafts Tradition: An Empire’s Legacy exhibition runs until Sunday, June 24, 2018.