67 eggs were made in Imperial Russia by Karl Fabrege and his work masters. These eggs were specifically made for the Royal Imperial families, one of the bigger families being the Romanov family. Because of this, there are very few pieces of art that even resemble these eggs unless they were made specifically to look like (one of) the eggs. Each one was custom designed for the woman they were being given to. Most of the eggs were made for the Empresses (the Tsar’s wives), but some also made them for their mother. The first egg was made in 1885 for Empress Maria Feodorovna. It was a gift from her husband Tsar Alexander II, Nicholas’s father. Maria enjoyed the gift so much, it became a family tradition that was passed down through three generations. In 1917, the company was nationalized because of the Russian Revolution, stopping all production.
One of the most interesting eggs that I have seen so far is the Imperial Rock Crystal Easter Egg with Revolving Miniatures that was given to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by her husband Tsar Nicholas II in 1896 to honor their second Easter together as husband and wife. Workmaster Mikhail Perkhin constructed the egg itself out of gold, enamel, diamonds, emeralds, and rock crystals; however, it is important to note that Johannes Zehngraf painted the revolving miniatures inside the egg with watercolor on ivory. Fun fact, Zehngraf actually signed the majority of his paintings in this egg in gold, but you can’t see them unless you deconstruct the center of the egg. Another thing that I found to be interesting was about the emerald sitting on the top of this egg: it is the only egg in the collection to have a crystal quite that large; most of the time, the Faberge company would try to avoid stones of that size, but they felt as it the emerald added the perfect touch to help balance out the piece.
The revolving miniatures are all portraits of different landscapes and palaces throughout Europe and Russia that were sentimental for Alexandra and Nicholas II. One of my favorites is a painting of Jagdschloss Kranichstein, Darmstadt, Germany which is a castle where Alexandra spent her summer holidays at. Another one that I particularly like depicts Balmoral Castle in Scotland which was another one of the residences Alexandra spent her summers in. I think that it’s really interesting (and sweet) that Tsar Nicholas II would incorporate locations and homes that were important to Empress Alexandra inside the egg. Typically, the eggs were made to hold special items like photographs, family heirlooms, watches, and clocks. Because this egg is transparent, I think that incorporating these places was a really neat idea; at first glance, nobody would know that these places held sentimental value unless they knew Empress Alexandra personally. The outside is absolutely gorgeous, just like the others, with the shining crystals and sparkly diamonds encasing the egg. I think that this egg puts a twist on your “average” Faberge egg!