Treasures of the World
© Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
◦ Mementos of a Doomed Dynasty
◦ Nicholas and Romanov Russia
◦ Nicholas and Alexandra
◦ The tragic events that followed the coronation of Nicholas II
◦ Bloody Sunday
◦ Signs of revolution
◦ The inventive young Faberge
◦ Faberge's growing fame
◦ The Faberge Imperial Easter eggs featured in the Series
◦ The House of Faberge
◦ The workshops and workmasters
◦ Faberge the man
◦ Outrageous opulence
◦ Fragile remembrances
◦ The fate of the eggs ◦
Faberge's growing fame
"Once you were one of the approved
suppliers to the crown, it was a very lucrative source of business,"
says Faberge collector Christopher Forbes. "Every time the Czar
went on a visit or received another head of state, there was always
an exchange of gifts.
Author Geza von Habsburg continues: "And when the Czar and Czarina
traveled, they traveled with suitcases full of Faberge, which were presented
here and there to people in thanks. By 1896, the year of the coronation
of Nicholas II, virtually all the major presents came from Faberge."
So imaginatively conceived and opulently executed, Faberge's work elevated
jewelry to a decorative art unequaled since the Renaissance. At the
1900 World Exhibition in Paris, the Imperial eggs were shown in public
for the first time. They astounded the jury, which showered him with
honors, and Faberge's fame spread throughout Europe.
Among the aristocracy, hardly any personal event could be celebrated
without a surprise from the House of Faberge. "Russia was growing
as an industrial power, and Faberge was catering to this whole class
of nouveau riche Russians," adds Forbes, "and the eggs were
his loss leaders to give him the cachet. But the cash was all coming
from these newly minted millionaires in Russia."
The novelty of combining artistic inspiration with functional value
-and a touch of whimsy - was so successful that Faberge's workshops
were flooded with commissions, transforming an ordinary goldsmith shop
into the famous "House of Faberge." But though aristocrats,
barons of industry, kings and queens alike all crossed his threshold
seeking gifts, Faberge's first duty was always to the Czar.