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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

The Rare Faberge Pieces That Link British, Russian Royal Families

EDINBURGH – Three unique Faberge eggs are on show in Edinburgh as part of a wider exhibition that explores the relationship between the British and Russian royal families spanning some 300 years, the curator told EFE on Friday.

The Queen’s Gallery in Holyrood Palace, the British Royal Family’s official residence in Scotland, is hosting a luxurious display of over 170 objects, including jewels, paintings, photographs, dresses, books and letters at the “Russia, Royalty & The Romanovs” exhibition.

“This exhibition has presented the opportunity to showcase parts of the collection that have never been exhibited before, many examples of works given as diplomatic gifts, some very grand gifts such as huge hardstone vases and also personal and intimate gifts given by the families as they became closer in the 19th century,” Caroline de Guitaut, curator of the show, told EFE.

The Royal Collection, which boasts over one million pieces that are housed across 15 spaces in the United Kingdom, is managed by the Royal Collection Trust.

One such item is an exquisite diamond and pearl encrusted tiara that Queen Elizabeth II to this day uses and that originally belonged to the Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia (1854-1920).

Not to be missed, three rare Faberge eggs, part of a unique collection of which only 50 exist.

“Some of the Faberge pieces have been exhibited here before but its the first time they have been shown within the broader context of the Russian connections with the family,” the expert continued.

The eggs are a testament to the long-standing diplomatic relations between the two families at the start of the 19th century.

The 1914 Mosaic Egg designed by Albert Holmstrom (1876-1925) but crafted under the watchful eye of master jeweler Peter Carl Faberge, takes pride of place in the exhibition.

The egg, considered one of the most sophisticated examples, is a jeweled enameled Easter egg with a huge array of diamond, ruby, emerald, garnet, moonstone, topaz and sapphire stones, among others.

Although the renowned jewelry firm is most well known for its eggs, there is a portable photo frame with an image of Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), the wife of Emperor Alexander III, a cigarette case and a diamond and sapphire broach also on show.

“A very grand scale portrait of Catherine the Great at the time of her becoming empress in Russia in 1762, it’s her coronation portrait,” the curator says of the range of artworks on show.

“We also have a portrait of Peter the Great, with whom the story really begins during his visit to William III in England in 1698 and that portrait was painted by Godfrey Kneller and given as a gift to the King.”

But for Guitauta a key artwork is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Russian Savely Sorine from 1948.

“What’s fascinating about this story that we tell with this exhibition is that the first Russian ruler to come was Peter the Great in 1698 but it took almost 300 years for a reigning British sovereign to visit Russia, and that happened with the state visit of her Majesty the Queen in 1994 to visit President Yeltsin of Russia,” the curator said.

“So the portrait of the Queen represents that in a way but it is also an example of emigre art by a Russian emigre painter called Savely and it was actually commissioned by her mother Queen Elizabeth in 1948,” Guitauta concluded.

 

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