Friday, April 22, 2011

Egg Decorating: The Fabergé Blue Serpent Clock Egg

From Pearly's Qunol:

1887 - Blue Serpent Clock Egg
The egg stands on a base of gold that is painted in opalescent white enamel. The base features three panels with raised motifs in four gold colors, representing the arts and sciences. The top of the egg is encircled by a white band with roman numerals, rotating around the egg, driven by a clock inside the egg. A serpent, set with diamonds, coils around the base up to the middle of the egg. Its head points to the hour, indicating the time.

The egg is enameled in translucent blue and has diamond-studded gold garlands surrounding the top and bottom of the egg. On each side of the egg a sculpted gold handle arches up in a "C" shape. It is attached to the egg on the top near the apex and on the lower half of the egg, near the center.

This is the first of the Imperial Fabergé eggs to feature a working clock.

Since this egg is a working clock, it contains no surprise.
The crafting of this Imperial egg is credited to Mikhail Perkhin of Fabergé's shop.

Fabergé created a very similar egg in 1902, the Duchess of Marlborough Egg for Consuelo Vanderbilt. This clock egg is larger than the Blue Serpent Clock Egg and is enameled in a pink, rather than blue.

Descriptions from the Russian State Historical Archives, the 1917 inventory of confiscated Imperial treasure and the 1922 transfer documents for the egg all describe it as containing sapphires. However, the Blue Serpent Clock Egg contains no sapphire. No one knows what happened to the sapphires.

The Blue Serpent Clock Egg was presented by Czar Aleksandr III to Maria Fyodorovna on Easter day, April 5th, 1887. It is possible that by this time, the egg gift was already an established tradition, allowing Fabergé and his craftsmen an entire year to craft the next egg. This would explain in part why this egg is so much more elaborate than the first Imperial Easter egg.

This egg, along with the First Hen Egg, is the only known surviving Imperial egg from the 1880's.

The egg was housed in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolution. Along with the other Fabergé eggs in the palace, the Serpent Clock Egg was transferred to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin in mid September of 1917. In 1922 the egg was likely transferred to the Sovnarkom where it was held until it was sold abroad to Michel Norman of the Australian Pearl Company. Between 1922 and 1950 the egg was bought by Emanuel Snowman of Wartski Jewelers, sold, and bought back by Wartski. The egg was sold again by Wartski around 1974 to an unknown party, and was held in a private collection in Switzerland in 1989. In 1992 it was owned by Prince Rainier III of Monaco. When Rainier III died in 2005, Prince Albert II inherited the egg along with the throne.