1896 Egg with Revolving
also known as Rock Chrystal Easter Egg
II to Alexandra Feodorovna
Made in Saint Petersburg
Owner: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, USA
Height: 24,8 cm
The 1896 Egg with Revolving Miniatures, also known as Rock Crystal Egg, is made of rock crystal, gold, cabochon Siberian emerald, rose-cut diamonds, translucent emerald-green, opaque white, orange and blue enamel.
The two halves of this rock crystal egg are held together by a narrow rose-cut diamond and translucent emerald-green enameled gold mount, culminating at the top with a 27 carat cabochon Siberian emerald, probably the biggest gem used in the Imperial Easter Eggs.
The Egg is supported on a circular rock crystal plinth. The monograms of the Tsarina as the Princess Alex of Hesse-Darmstadt before her marriage, and as Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia, each surmounted by their respective crown, appear as separate formal patterns encircling this plinth.
(Fabergé, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1995, 56, 57)
The 12 miniatures, all but two signed by Johannes Zehngraf, are framed in gold and revolve around a gold shaft that passes vertically through the center of the egg when the cabochon emerald at the top is depressed and turned. A hook is lowered and folds the miniatures back like the pages of a book, so that two of the miniatures can be fully seen.
Each miniature represents a place of significance in the Tsarina's life; for Germany the Palaces in and near Darmstadt Hesse and Coburg, for the UK, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle, Cathcart House*, and Osborne House on the British Isle of Wight, Queen Victoria's (Alix' grandmother) favorite residence. For Russia, the Winter Palace, the Anichkov Palace and the Alexander Palace, in and near Saint Petersburg.
An interesting page about three of the VMFA Imperial Easter Eggs, including the 1896 Egg with Revolving Miniatures, or Imperial Rock Chrystal Egg as it is named here. For the 1896 Egg, there are images of all twelve miniatures. Here you are!
The image above of the base with the Empress' crowned monogram AF (АФ) is from this webpage.
Update August/September 2016
Identification of the Miniatures as displayed in Fabergé, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1995, 56, 57:
View 1 Neues Palais, Darmstadt, DE
View 2 Jagdschloss Kranichstein, Hesse, DE
View 3 Veste Coburg, Coburg, DE
View 4 Schloss Rosenau, Coburg, DE
View 5 Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, RU
View 6 Anichkov Palace, St. Petersburg, RU
View 7 Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, RU
View 8 Wolfsgarten, Hesse, DE
View 9 Cathcart House and Congregational Church, Harrogate, UK*
View 10 Windsor Palace, UK
View 11 Balmoral, Scotland, UK
View 12 Osborne House, Isle of Wight, UK
This was the last of the five Imperial Easter Eggs bought by Lillian Thomas Pratt. The other four Eggs are the 1898 Pelican Egg, the 1903 Peter the Great Egg, the 1912 Tsarevich Egg and the 1915 Red Cross Portraits Egg.
In 1930 one of the ten Eggs sold by the Antikvariat to the Hammer Galleries in New York. Ca. 1945 bought by Lillian Thomas Pratt, wife of a General Motors executive. 1947 Collection of the late Lillian Thomas Pratt, willed to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, USA.
See this Egg on YouTube and Britisch Movietone (2x!)
Update oktober 2016
Read all about this and the other four Imperial Easter Eggs housed in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on this new page! You can experience the Eggs in 360° and watch videos of the Eggs.
When you download the App, (App Store or Google Play) you can read about the historic backrounds of the "key players", journey through a classic Russian fairytale and create virtual miniature egg charms!
To watch the Egg and see the beautiful details by using the Zoom function, go to the Zoom functie on its VMFA webpagina by clicking here!
Page updated: April 21, 2017