The Lost Imperial Nécessaire Fabergé Easter Egg
The above photograph belonging to Wartski, the London Fabergé specialists is the only surviving image of the Nécessaire Egg. The whereabouts of the Egg is currently unknown. It was last recorded at Wartski on the 19th June 1952 when it was sold to a buyer named as ‘A Stranger’ for £1250.
Wartski exhibited the Egg at the first ever Western Exhibition of Fabergé’s work staged at their Regent Street premises three years earlier in November 1949.
The Egg had lost its Imperial provenance and was described simply as, ‘A fine gold egg, richly set with diamonds, cabochon rubies, emeralds, a large coloured diamond at top and a cabochon sapphire at point. The interior is designed as an Etui with thirteen diamond set implements’
Fabergé’s jewelled Imperial Easter Eggs are masterpieces of the goldsmith’s art; relics of a vanished Empire where craftsmanship flourished under the very highest levels of patronage.The Imperial Russian goldsmith Carl Fabergé was commissioned by Emperor Alexander III to supply an Easter Egg every year as a gift for his consort Marie Feodorovna. After his death the tradition was continued by his son Tsar Nicholas II. Fabergé was then required to make two Eggs every year, one as a gift for his mother the dowager Empress Marie and another for his consort Alexandra Feodorovna. By the time of the Russian Revolution Fabergé had delivered fifty of these remarkable objects. The Imperial Easter Eggs were Fabergé’s most important and demanding commissions. They are a combination of peerless craftsmanship and inventive design. Each took at least a year to complete and only the finest craftsmen were entrusted with their creation .Confident that Fabergé never failed to please and amaze, no artistic or financial limitations were placed on his work by either Alexander III or Nicholas II. That each Egg should be uniquely amusing and delightful was the only stipulation
The Nécessaire Egg was commissioned by Alexander III for Easter 1889, it was invoiced by Fabergé on the 4th May 1889 as ‘Nécessaire Egg, Louis XV Style, 1900 roubles’
On the 28th March 1891 it was recorded in the Gatchina Palace in the note below, ‘Her Majesty arranged the following items in the main study: one item in the form of an Egg, decorated with stones, containing Ladies’ toilet articles, 13 pieces’
In 1917 as German forces threatened St. Petersburg, the Provisional Government moved the Imperial treasures to the Moscow Kremlin for safekeeping, among the items taken was a ‘Gold Nécessaire egg, decorated with multi coloured precious stones’.
Between 17th February and 24th March 1922 responsibility for the Eggs was transferred from the Kremlin Armoury to the special plenipotentiary of the Council of People’s Commissars, Ivan Gavrilovich Chinariov, included in the transfer was ‘1 gold Nécessaire egg, with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and 1 sapphire’
The Egg’s last known location was at Wartski in 1952. Its purchaser’s anonymity was safeguarded throughout Wartski’s records and they remain unidentified.