The celebrated series of 50 Imperial Easter eggs was created for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916 when the company was run by Peter Carl Fabergé. These creations are inextricably linked to the glory and tragic fate of the last Romanov family. They were the ultimate achievement of the renowned Russian jewellery house and must also be considered the last great commissions of objets d’art . Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; 40 more were created during the rule of his dutiful son, Nicholas II, two each year, one for his mother, the dowager, the second for his wife.
The series began in 1885 when Emperor Alexander III, through the intermediary of his uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir, commissioned an Easter egg from Fabergé as an Easter present for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. Initially planned by Fabergé to contain a diamond ring, the actual finished version, following specific instructions of the Emperor, included a ruby pendant of great value.
Inspired by an 18th century original, the Hen Egg has an opaque white enamelled outer ‘shell’, opening with a twist to reveal a first surprise - a matt yellow gold yolk. This in turn contains an enamelled chased gold hen that once held a replica of the Imperial Crown with a precious ruby pendant egg within. The drop by itself cost more than half of the egg’s total price (both lost, being only known from an old photograph).
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