1907 Yusupov Egg

(also known as Sandoz Youssoupov Egg and Yussupov Egg)*

Presented by Prince Felix Yusupov to his wife Zinaïda
on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary
Made in Saint Petersburg
Owner: Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz, Lausanne, Switzerland
Height: 27 cm

Youssoupov Egg

The Yusupov Egg is made of yellow and red gold, rose-cut diamonds, emeralds, pearls, rubies, white onyx, translucent raspberry pink and opaque white enamel.

The Egg is made as a Louis XVI style table-clock, the revolving opaque white enamel dial, set with diamond-set Roman numerals, standing on three pilasters and lion-paw feet. Suspended laurel swags contain three oval medallions that once held miniatures of Prince Felix Yusupov and this sons, Felix and Nicholas. The medallions now have the gold letters M, Y and S, within rose-cut diamond borders, the initials of the last owner, Maurice Sandoz.

Background information

This Egg was presented by Prince Felix (or Feliks) Yusupov to his wife Zinaïda on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary. Prince Felix Elston-Soumarkov (or Soumarkov/Sumarrokow-Elston) was granted special dispensation by the tsar to take the name Yusupov when he married the Princess Zinaïda Yusupov. The name of one of Russia's Original Eggoldest and wealthiest families would otherwise have died out.

It was the son, the young Prince Felix, and a group of conspirators, who on December 16, 1916, in what was then considered to be a patriotic act, murdered Grigori Rasputin the monk who played a key role in the downfall of the Romanov imperial dynasty. They succeeded in luring him to Felix' home, the Moika Palace, where Yusupov fed him Madeira tea laced with cyanide and cakes. When the poison had no effect, a panicked Yusupov shot him several times, before his co-conspirators dumped Rasputin into the Neva river to drown. Rasputin had prophecied the decline and fall of the Romanov empire if he was assassinated. Only ten weeks after Rasputin's death, the Romanov's were overthrown by Bolshevik revolutionary forces!

As the october Revolution of 1917 approached, the family had secret rooms built to safeguard their vast amount of treasures. It took the Bolsheviks five years to discover five secret rooms in the Moika Palace! It is said that two rooms may still remain undetected!

The miniatures of Prince Felix and his two sons were removed in New York at the request of Maurice Sandoz, the new owner. The firm that did the work reportedly retains the original medallions to this day.

1907 Presented by Prince Felix Yusupov to his wife Zinaida. Probably sold by Russian officials in Paris or Berlin. 1949 Owned by dealers in London. 1953 Owned by Dr. Maurice Sandoz, Switzerland. June 1958 Collection of the late Maurice Sandoz. 1977 Collection of Edouard and Maurice Sandoz. 1995 Fondation Edouard et Maurice Sandoz, Lausanne, Switzerland. Black and white picture, the Yusupov Egg as it was in 1907.

Youssoupov Egg

The capital letter "Y" on one of the oval medallions! This picture was the very first one I got of the Yusupov Egg, I was so happy to get it as one of my last missing pictures! Thank you so much "Laurent"! Volker, thanks for the big colored picture!

  monogram
 

October 2009. After seeing the monogram of Princes Yusupov on a beautiful fan of hers in the Amsterdam Hermitage, I suddenly recognized it on the key of the Egg!

The key of the egg is made of red and yellow gold and shows in an oval, adorned with swags and topped with the imperial crown, in cyrillic characters the monogram of Zinaïda Yusupova Sumarkov Elston, СЗЮЭ. (Зинаида Юсупова Сумароков Эльстон).

 


From the earlier "Forum" where Eggs could be discussed:

The 1907 Yusupov Egg
Juan F. Déniz from Gran Canaria - Canary Islands - 19 December 2008:

I recently sent a message to the Sandoz Foundation curator to suggest them to replace the original medallions with the pictures of prince Felix and his two sons in the Yusupov egg they own. Unfortunately they were replaced by the initials of the new owner, Maurice Sandoz.

The reasons why I think this must be made is the alteration of a historical piece, a work of art that in my opinion, should remain as it was made and conceived by the house of Fabergé, not adding or changing anything.

It is supposed the company that did the work, I do not know the name of it, maybe somebody does, retaines the original miniatures, so if someone shares the opinion that the egg should be restored to its original condition you could send a message to the curator of the Sandoz Foundation...

Answer

Juan, thanks for mailing the curator. Most Fabergé enthusiasts I think prefer the original miniatures, but as the Sandoz Foundation owns the Egg they perhaps see it more as a "family piece" than as a Fabergé Egg. Let's hope that one day the owners want it restored to the original condition.

I believe those miniatures are in an American collection. I will try to find out and get back to you.

Update: I asked around and got some stories, but unfortunately I cannot get confirmed who did the replacement nor who owns the miniatures today...

However, I found an old photograph of the miniatures and now we can make ourselves the picture of what the Egg could look like...

The two sons

Update February 2009: Hillwood Museum and Gardens have a picture frame in their collection of which they say: "In 1970 Mrs. Post added the miniature of Nikolai which possibly came from the Yusupov egg of 1907". Is this indeed one of the Yusupov Egg miniatures? Judge for yourself...

Just a note; IS it Nicholai/Nicholas in the frame below and not his brother Felix..? It IS Nicholas, confirmed by a lady who knows!

Hillwood

 

*note: the name Юсупов (Yusupov) is spelled in many different ways due to translation from Russian. I found it written: Iusupov, Joesoepow, Joesopov, Jussupoff, Jussupov, Jussupow, Jusupov, Jusupow, Yossopov, Yousoupoff, Yousoupov, Youssoupov, Youssoupoff, Yusopov, Yussupov and Yusupov smile

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page updated: October 29, 2016