Today we had a day at sea – we are currently cruising between Sweden and Denmark heading for Germany. It was pretty rocky after we left Belgium and remained fairly rocky until mid morning today. It certainly makes for an interesting workout in the gym.
On sea days they always have plenty to do so I went to a presentation on Berlin (our next destination), Stockholm and St Petersburg. The presentation certainly got me very excited about the next few days.
I then went to the History of Fabergé presentation. Fabergé is one of the most famous jewellery companies in the world with their imperial easter eggs being world renowned. The President of the Company, Phillip Bernstein was on board and they had some items on display and for sale in one of the boutiques. They were also doing their world launch on board of two new egg creations. They were quite stunning and apparently one sold on board later today for USD30,000. I had heard of Fabergé but didn’t really know anything about it so the presentation was fascinating. The significance of Fabergé in respect of this Baltic cruise is that the brand has it’s roots in Russia. See below for more information in respect of the history of Fabergé and the Imperial Eggs.
After lunch I went to a seminar in the gym on exercises to lose weight – Igor the Brazilian trainer was quite entertaining. His accent was very thick so he was a bit hard to understand and if you had no idea about fitness or exercise you would have been completely confused.
Learning over for the day I settled into my sun lounger and covered myself with the blanket provided – this is the Baltic’s after all. Next minute we heard a helicopter and given we were nowhere near land and the boat has a helicopter pad we thought it must be coming to visit us. Mrs Nosy had to check it out so I went up to the front of the boat. It was a really big helicopter and it was hovering just off the boat while the crew frantically put down all the railing around the helicopter landing pad.
As you can imagine a big crowd had gathered to see what was going on. It took a little while but they worked out that the helicopter was actually too big to land on the heli pad so they lowered a guy down dressed in an orange jumpsuit. A few minutes later a second guy was lowered down – he had a big medical back pack with him and was rushed down the stairs into the boat.
The helicopter remained hovering but after a while decided to do a fly round the boat. The pilots were waving out to everyone. I went back down to get my camera and heard some people say it was just an exercise but I still wanted to see what happened next. By this time the helicopter was hovering at the back of the boat so a big crowd had gathered there to see what was happening. It eventually returned to the front where I had a front row pew.
The two orange jumpsuits reappeared along with some crew members carrying a stretcher with a person on it. This person was waving to the crowd but I couldn’t make out whether it was a young or an old person. A couple also appeared with some suitcases – they were obviously connected to the person in the stretcher. The man said good bye to the person in the stretcher and went back into the boat. The stretcher was hoisted up into the helicopter. The woman was then hoisted up with one of the orange jumpsuits – she looked petrified and I must say I felt really sorry for her as she looked as though she was hanging on for dear life. She had these black pump type shoes on and I thought they looked like they could fall off at any minute – probably the least of her worries. They hoisted the suitcases up and then they were away. The pilots waved once again and the crowd waved back. I still haven’t found out what happened to this person but I am sure I will by the end of the cruise.
Drama on the high seas over I returned to my lounger to finish my book. The boat had actually stopped while all this was going on but the Captain assured us there would be no delay in relation to us reaching Germany the next day – not sure how that works given they have such precise schedules they stick to – we had probably been stopped out in the middle of the ocean for an hour and a half.
We dined in the Tuscan Grille tonight and it was divine. We had a table right at the back of the boat overlooking the wake left behind by the boat.
The Story of Fabergé (Wikipedia)
The story of Fabergé is inextricably linked to the lives, loves and tragedy of the last Romanov Tsar Nicholas II and his Empress Alexandra, and to the Russian Revolution that changed the course of world history. Of Huguenot origin, with a febrile imagination, protean talent and entrepreneurial instincts, Peter Carl Fabergé became jeweller and goldsmith to the great Russian Imperial Court, creating exquisite jewels and objects, including the legendary series of lavish and ingenious Imperial Easter Eggs.
His worldwide reputation attracted royalty, nobility, tycoons, industrialists and the artistic intelligentsia of Paris, Moscow, St Petersburg and London. In 1917, the Russian Revolution brought a violent end not only to the Romanov dynasty but also to the House of Fabergé. The Bolsheviks seized the Fabergé workshops and their treasures, all production was closed down and Peter Carl Fabergé and his family fled from Russia.
In a legal settlement in 1951, the Fabergé family lost the right to produce and market designs under the Fabergé name. Yet, through decades of the 20th century, the noble Fabergé name, separated from the family despite their attempts to honour and perpetuate their legacy, showed an extraordinary resilience. Throughout, the legend has retained its mystique, charisma and awe-inspiring romance, along with a certain enigma tied to the mystery of the whereabouts of many iconic Fabergé works of art.
History came full circle in October 2007 when Fabergé, under new ownership and direction, announced the reunification of the Fabergé name with the Fabergé family. This opened a new chapter in the intriguing story of Fabergé, and set the stage for a total revitalisation of the Fabergé name and philosophy, in tune with its original values, aesthetics and spirit. Fabergé was re-launched on the 9th September, 2009, with three Les Fabuleuses de Fabergé High Jewellery Collections – Les Fleurs, Les Fables and Les Fauves de Fabergé.
Today, with Katharina Flohr as Creative and Managing Director, and her in-house creative team, Fabergé is forging a fresh yet strong identity. Paying homage to Peter Carl Fabergé’s genius as a visionary artist-jeweller, and benefiting from the expertise and guidance of Tatiana and Sarah Fabergé, his great-grand-daughters, contemporary Fabergé collections are imbued with poetry, artistry and refined ideals of beauty made possible by unrivalled craftsmanship, innovation and ingenuity, all underlined with a strong emotional engagement. Distinguished by Fabergé’s dedication to excellence and pursuit of perfection, the jewels are both linked to Fabergé’s world, yet of the moment and relevant today, demonstrating the modernity that Peter Carl Fabergé was always able to bring to his own eclectic cultural and stylistic references.
Peter Carl Fabergé, legendary artist-jeweller, goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court, was the creative and entrepreneurial genius behind the world-renowned company that bore his name. He captured his extraordinary moment in time through exquisite jewels and precious objects that still resonate today with the passions and poignancy of a lost world. Deeply imbued with the spirit of their age, these masterpieces remain timeless in their recherché beauty, breathtaking craftsmanship and absolute dedication to perfection. Like the swan song of a dying civilisation, Fabergé’s jewels, personal accessories and objects of fantasy, richly layered with cultural references, conjure up a vision of Belle Époque, its leisured luxury and ravishing refinement, the fabulous new wealth of tycoons and industrialists. They trace the captivating story of the tragic end of the Romanov dynasty, of the lives and loves of the ill-fated Nicholas II and Alexandra, cocooned in the lavish opulence of their court, cut off from the harsh realities of a fast-changing world and rocked by encroaching forces of darkness. French in their artistic sensibilities but with a profound and poetic Russian soul, Fabergé’s works of art, like the stories they tell, continue to exert a powerful fascination as hypnotic today as it ever was.
Born in 1846, and apprenticed as a boy to his goldsmith father, Peter Carl Fabergé was educated in St Petersburg and Dresden where he fell under the mesmerizing influence of the Renaissance and Baroque treasures in the famous Green Vaults. As a young man he travelled extensively, immersing himself in the cultural delights of the Grand Tour, including the Medici Renaissance treasures in Florence. He studied in Paris and received expert tuition from goldsmiths in France, Germany and England.
The Imperial Easter Eggs
The series of lavish Easter eggs created by Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family, between 1885 and 1916, against an extraordinary historical backdrop, is regarded as the artist-goldsmith’s greatest and most enduring achievement. The Imperial Easter eggs are certainly the most celebrated and awe-inspiring of all Fabergé works of art, inextricably bound to the Fabergé name and legend. They are also considered as some of the last great commissions of objets d’art.
The story began when Tsar Alexander III decided to give a jewelled Easter egg to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna, in 1885, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed that the Tsar, who had first become acquainted with Fabergé’s virtuoso work at the Moscow Pan-Russian Exhibition in 1882, was inspired by an 18th century egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Wilhelmine Marie of Denmark. The object was said to have captivated the imagination of the young Maria during her childhood in Denmark. Tsar Alexander was apparently involved in the design and execution of the egg, making suggestions to Fabergé as the project went along. Easter was the most important occasion of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church, equivalent to Christmas in the West. A centuries-old tradition of bringing hand-coloured eggs to Church to be blessed and then presented to friends and family, had evolved through the years and, amongst the highest echelons of St Petersburg society, the custom developed of presenting valuably bejewelled Easter gifts. So it was that Tsar Alexander III had the idea of commissioning Fabergé to create a precious Easter egg as a surprise for the Empress, and thus the first Imperial Easter egg was born.
Known as the Hen Egg, it is crafted from gold, its opaque white enamelled ‘shell’ opening to reveal its first surprise, a matt yellow gold yolk. This in turn opens to reveal a multi-coloured, superbly chased gold hen that also opens. Originally, this contained a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant egg was suspended. Unfortunately these last two surprises have been lost.
The Empress’s delight at this intriguing gift with its hidden jewelled surprises was the starting point for the yearly Imperial tradition that continued for 32 years until 1917 and produced the most opulent and captivating Easter gifts the world has ever seen. The eggs were private and personal gifts, and the whole spectacular series charted the romantic and tragic story leading up to the end of the mighty Romanovs.
Each egg, an artistic tour de force, took a year or more to make, involving a team of highly skilled craftsmen, who worked in the greatest secrecy. Fabergé was given complete freedom in the design and execution, with the only prerequisite being that there had to be surprise within each creation. Dreaming up each complex concept, Fabergé often drew on family ties, events in Imperial Court life, or the milestones and achievements of the Romanov dynasty, as in the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg of 1911, commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of Nicholas II’s accession to the throne, or the Romanov Tercentenary Egg of 1913 that celebrated 300 years of the House of Romanov, showing portrait miniatures of the Russian dynastic rulers. Although the theme of the Easter eggs changed annually, the element of surprise remained a constant link between them. The surprises ranged from a perfect miniature replica of the Coronation carriage – that took 15 months to make working 16-hour days – through a mechanical swan and an ivory elephant, to a heart-shaped frame on an easel with 11 miniature portraits of members of the Imperial family.
Alexander III presented an egg each year to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna and the tradition was continued, from 1895, by his son Nicholas II who presented an egg annually to both his wife the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and to his mother the Dowager Empress Marie Fedorovna. However, there were no presentations during 1904 and 1905 because of political unrest and the Russo-Japanese War.
The most expensive was the 1913 Winter Egg, which was invoiced at 24,600 roubles (then £2,460). Prior to the Great War, a room at Claridges was 10 shillings (50 pence) a night compared to approximately £380 today. Using this yardstick, the egg would have cost £1.87 million in today’s money.
The Winter Egg, designed by Alma Pihl, famed for her series of diamond snowflakes, is made of carved rock crystal as thin as glass. This is embellished with engraving, and ornamented with platinum and diamonds, to resemble frost. The egg rests on a rock-crystal base designed as a block of melting ice. Its surprise is a magnificent and platinum basket of exuberant wood anemones. The flowers are made from white quartz, nephrite, gold and demantoid garnets and they emerge from moss made of green gold. Its overall height is 14.2cm. It is set with 3,246 diamonds. The egg sold at Christie’s in New York in 2002 for US$9.6 million.
Of the 50 eggs Fabergé made for the Imperial family from 1885 through to 1916, 42 have survived.