Designed to delight and surprise, the treasures created by the firm of Carl Fabergé have inspired admiration and intrigue for over a century, both for their remarkable craftsmanship and the fascinating histories that surround them. Now, a special exhibition at Hillwood will unveil new discoveries relating to its own collection of Fabergé imperial Easter eggs and other famed works.
Opening June 2018
The famous discovery in 2014 of a long lost imperial Easter egg—Tsar Alexander III’s 1887 Easter gift to his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna—by a scrap metal dealer in the Midwest not only made headlines, but also prompted new findings about Hillwood’s own collection. Newly uncovered facts relating to the rediscovered egg confirmed that The Twelve Monogram Egg, long believed to have been made in 1895, was actually one of two imperial Easter eggs fabricated in 1896.
The fascination with Fabergé continues to uncover new facts and discoveries about the storied jeweler to the court of St. Petersburg and his creations. Fabergé Rediscovered will unveil recent research and discoveries like that above. It will bring to light new attributions and provenances and provide a broader framework to study, explore, and appreciate nineteenth and twentieth-century jewelry and goldsmithing.
The exhibition and an accompanying publication will also explore how the name Fabergé, inseparable from the tragic fate of the Romanovs, came to be associated with extreme luxury and technical perfection.
Hillwood’s Fabergé Collection
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Garden’s Fabergé collection includes about ninety pieces, including two imperial Easter eggs, various works of art of imperial provenance, silver, jewelry, hardstone, and religious items. First published in 1965 by Marvin C. Ross with the publication Art of Karl Fabergé, the collection was studied and published again by Katrina V.H. Taylor in 1983 (Fabergé at Hillwood) and by Anne Odom in 1996.
Major American art dealers and collectors, such as Marjorie Merriweather Post, played a significant role in Fabergé’s success after the fall of the imperial regime. For the first time, with this exhibition, Hillwood’s collection will be examined through Post’s perspective. When she bought her first Fabergé piece, a Iusupov family heirloom, from the French jeweler Cartier in 1926, she was unaware of the work of the Russian court jeweler, but must have found the object to be very much in line with her preference for objects with historic provenances that were also precious and beautifully crafted.
Dr. Wilfried Zeisler is Hillwood’s chief curator. He is a graduate of Sorbonne University and the École du Louvre. Zeisler has written extensively on the decorative arts in France and Russia, including a 2010 book on ceramics. His dissertation, L’Objet d’art et de luxe francais en Russie (1881-1917), was published in 2014. He has participated in and curated exhibitions in Paris and Monaco. At Hillwood, he curated Splendor and Surprise: Elegant Containers, Antique to Modern (2015) and Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter (2016). Zeisler co-authored the latter exhibition’s accompanying book, Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris (2015).
A 220-page fully illustrated publication, authored by Dr. Zeisler, will accompany the presentation of the exhibition. In addition to Zeisler’s text, the book will also include three to four short essays contributed by scholars in the field.