An important Fabergé hardstone figurine, dated 1912 and of Kamer-Kazak N.N. Pustynnikov, the personal Cossack bodyguard of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, sold for a record $5.2 million at Stair Galleries in Hudson, USA on 26th October 2013. The figurine far exceeded its pre-sale auction estimate of $500,000 to $800,000.
The last hardstone figure sold at auction, which depicted a boyar, reached $1.8 million in 2005 at Sotheby’s in New York. It was one of eight hardstone figurines that Agathon Fabergé, the younger brother of Peter Carl Fabergé, managed to take with him when he escaped from the USSR in 1927.
The lifelike hardstone figurines produced by Fabergé from 1908 - masterpieces of the stone carvers' art - were met with great enthusiasm by Emperor Nicholas II. A letter from Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich to the Emperor dated March 14th 1914 reads: 'The success obtained yesterday with the hardstone Petersburg coachman figurine makes me bold enough to present another figurine, showing a mouzhik with an accordion. It is carried out with fineness even greater than that used for the coachman.'
Although it has been estimated that Fabergé made 60 to 80 figurines, Tatiana Fabergé (in ‘Fabergé: A Comprehensive Reference Book’) considers the true figure to be much lower. They are extremely rare, on a similar level of rarity as the Imperial Easter Eggs, and the portrait figures (depictions of known historical persons), are even rarer.
Image courtesy of Stair Galleries.
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