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Collection

A silver cigar cutter by Carl Fabergé,

St. Petersburg, circa 1908.

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imaginatively modelled as a carp, its body curved as though mid swim, when the protruding gold mounted pink chalcedony eyes are pressed the blade opens across its mouth and the fish appears to breath.

13cm in length.

Chief Workmaster: Henrik Wigström.
Ninety-one zolotnik silver standard

Provenance

Purchased by 4th Earl Howe, H. M Queen Alexandra’s Chamberlain from Fabergé’s Dover Street London branch on 24th November 1908 for £23, 10s.

The Woolf Collection.

Exhibited:

Carl Fabergé, Special Coronation Exhibition,
Wartski, London, 1953, number 259.

Japonisme: from Falize to Fabergé, the Goldsmith and Japan,
Wartski, 2011, number 191

Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution,
Victoria & Albert Museum, London 2021-2022.

Illustrated

The Art of Carl Fabergé, A. K Snowman, (London, 1953), plate 177.

‘Fabergé in London’ (McCarthy, 2017), page 140.

Fabergé: Romance to Revolution ( Ed. McCarthy & Faurby, V&A
Publications, 2021), pages 2,3 & 133.

Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) owned a significant collection of Japanese works of art, which proved to be a valuable source of inspiration for his own work. A photograph of his apartment in Morskaya Street shows a display case filled with over 500 netsuke. It is likely that Fabergé acquired many of these pieces from a shop called ‘Japan’ which was situated on the Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg during the turn of the 19th century.

With the restoration of the Meiji in 1868, the borders of Japan were opened to international trade. This led to a Europe wide fascination with Japanese works of art. Many of Fabergé’s customers were keen collectors of Japanese artefacts . Franz Birbaum, who managed Fabergé’s workshop, mentioned in his memoirs that it was the firm’s acquaintance with Chinese and Japanese works of art which ‘first stimulated [them] to produce work of this kind.’

The carp was a particularly popular and often represented subject in Japanese decorative arts. The fish was a symbol of strength, virility and good luck.