Today I bring Part II of my series exploring the Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs. Be sure to read PART I first as I give a brief history on extraordinary jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé, and how he came to create the famous Easter Eggs for Tsar Alexander III. I also highlighted each of the seven existing eggs (out of ten made in total) that Tsar Alexander commissioned for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna.
THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER III OF RUSSIA
In late 1894, Tsar Alexander became ill with terminal kidney disease. Exceedingly weak, he insisted upon formally receiving the fiancée of his son, the Tsesarevich Nicholas, upon her arrival from Darmstadt. In late October, full dress uniform, Tsar Alexander welcomed Princess Alix with all the traditional pomp. The event left him profoundly weak, and on November 1, 1894 he died in the arms of his wife. He was 49 years of age and had reigned as Tsar for thirteen years.
REIGN OF TSAR NICHOLAS II OF RUSSIA
Nicholas, while yet the Tsesarevich (heir-apparent) met and fell in love with Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine (granddaughter of Queen Victoria). They were officially engaged on April 20, 1894.
The suddenness of Tsar Alexander’s death moved the intended timeline forward. The day after Tsar Alexander’s death, Nicholas was consecrated as Tsar Nicholas II. The titles of Grand Duchess and Imperial Highness were bestowed upon Princess Alix, who took the royal name Alexandra Feodorovna. The scheduled spring wedding was canceled, Nicholas and Alexandra marrying on November 26, 1894. The date was chosen as it was the birthdate of the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, so special in that regard but also the only day allowing for the relaxing of strict court mourning rules.
Tsar Nicholas II immediately assumed the rule of Russia, although his formal coronation would not take place until May 26, 1896. The ceremony was held jointly with Alexandra in Uspensky Cathedral located within the Moscow Kremlin.
THE IMPERIAL EGGS GIFTED BY TSAR NICHOLAS II
The new Tsar continued the tradition begun by his father of annually gifting Fabergé Easter Eggs. In the handful of months remaining before the 1895 Easter holiday, Fabergé had not only to rework the egg that had originally been planned for Maria Feodorovna prior to her husband’s death, but also to create an appropriate egg for Empress Alexandra. He managed spectacularly, of course, as will be shown in a bit.
For nineteen of the twenty-one years to follow (before the Russian Revolution’s terrible carnage) Fabergé and his remarkable craftsmen uniquely designed and created two special eggs. The two years with no Imperial Eggs presented were 1904 (due to the Russo-Japanese War) and 1905 (cue to civil unrest in Russia). Amazingly, of the 33 eggs gifted by Nicholas II, only four remain lost. All of the still-missing eggs were gifted to Dowager Empress Maria—
- Mauve Egg (1897)
- Empire Nephrite Egg (1902)
- Royal Danish Egg (1903)
- Alexander III Commemorative Egg (1909)
The cards below are created by me with basic details on each egg (from the links mentioned below) and are in chronological order of the year when the egg was gifted. Each card can be clicked for a bigger-image view.
In yesterday’s blog I shared links to several Fabergé focused blogs. The three links below provide minute details on each egg, including specifics on the egg’s journey and many more detailed photos. Details on the lost eggs are available as well. I highly recommend clicking over for the photos if nothing else.
Share your thoughts in the comments!
Which Egg is your favorite?