Hesse Jubilee brooch
The original design for the Royal Fabergé Hesse Jubilee brooch discovered at Wartski.
It was found in the workshop albums of Fabergé’s chief jewellers, the Holmström Family, held by the firm. Drawn on card in pencil, it is the bench design the jeweller worked from to create the brooch.
The jewel was a gift to H.M Queen Victoria to celebrate her 60th Jubilee in June 1897. The central motif is a heart containing the Cyrillic word for sixty. It was given jointly by the Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia (the Empress being a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) together with three of the Empress’ siblings and their spouses. The Russian Imperial cabinet papers contain the Fabergé invoice for the brooch dated 29th May 1897. Different amounts were paid by the contributors, a note in the Empress’ hand gives the price as 1000 roubles and the division as:
The Empress and Emperor of Russia
Grand Duchess Ella and Grand Duke Sergei of Russia
Grand Duke Ernest Louis and the Duchess of Hesse
Princess Victoria and the Prince of Battenberg
The note also records the three blue sapphires in the brooch were provided by the Emperor and Empress through the Russian Imperial Cabinet office.
The design for the jewel shows it surmounted by a diamond and suspending what appear to be two drop shaped pearls. The Empress’ note indicates she and the Emperor chose to replace these elements of the original design with sapphires from their collection.
Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee was officially celebrated on the 22nd June 1897 with a service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s cathedral. Although the Queen was able to travel there in her carriage, she was too frail to mount the steps to the cathedral, and the service was conducted outside on the cathedral’s steps. Queen Victoria remained in her carriage in front of St Paul’s. Crowds thronged the city to watch the celebration and her progress through the streets. In her diary the Queen noted her joy,
No-one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those six miles of streets… The crowds were quite indescribable and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening and every face seemed to be filled with joy.
With credit to Galina Korneva for her research into the brooch.