Basket of flowers egg - Silver, parcel gilt, gold, oyster guilloché and blue enamel, diamonds
Imperial Easter egg, basket-shaped, silver-gilt and oyster guilloché enamel mounted with rose diamond trellis and oval handle with four bows, blue enamel splayed base with rose diamond trellis. Egg contains wild flowers, leaves and husks of enamel on gold. Commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II as an Easter present for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in 1901, the Basket of Flowers Egg cost 6,850 roubles. The Tsarina kept the egg in her study at the Winter Palace. Each of the 50 Imperial Easter Eggs made by Fabergé was unique, its design and execution of the highest possible standard using the finest raw materials.
The bouquet of wild spring flowers would have particularly appealed to Tsarina Alexandra, who owned several of Fabergé’s flower studies. Pansies, cornflowers, daisies, mock orange, oats and grasses are set into an egg-shaped vase of oyster guilloché enamel filled with moss made of green gold. The vase is applied with gold and rose diamonds in a trellis pattern. The handle is similarly set with diamonds and applied with bows. According to a description of the egg in an inventory of the Easter eggs kept at the Winter Palace dated 1909, the vase was ‘entirely covered with white enamel’. Due to damage sustained in the aftermath of the revolution, the base was re-enamelled in blue, possibly between Queen Mary’s acquisition of the egg in 1933 and a photograph of it published in 1949. A note of its condition made in 1933 records that the enamel on the leaves and in two places on the basket was damaged.
The egg was exhibited at the charity exhibition held under the patronage of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in March 1902 at the mansion of Baron von Dervis in St Petersburg. It was confiscated from the Anichkov Palace by the provisional government in 1917 and taken to the Moscow Kremlin Armoury, where it was valued at 15,000 roubles. In 1922 it was transferred to the Sovnarkom (the government of the early Soviet republic) and in 1933 it was sold for 2,000 roubles by the Antikvariat (the state-run organisation ‘for the collection and conservation of treasures’).
According to her list of bibelots, Queen Mary acquired this egg in the same year, but no invoice for its purchase survives. Text adapted from Fabergé in the Royal Collection