I knew from the moment that I saw the large stone rabbit watching over the Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany, that it was going to be something special. After all, what better sentinel to stand guard over the world-renowned Fabergé eggs created for Russian czars and aristocrats?
From the outside, the townhouse-type building is fairly nondescript, though a gold sign written in Russian tips you off that there might be something surprising inside. It is not until you visit the "locker room" where you leave behind any purses, backpacks and cameras and walk into the boutique-style, glass-cabineted rooms that you realize just how amazing the collection really is.
The World’s Most Expensive Eggs
When you think of famous jewelers, one name that immediately comes to mind is Carl Peter Fabergé, who once served as the official jeweler for the Russian Imperial Court and owned the largest jewelry firm in Russia. While his name will be forever synonymous with the rare and highly sought-after Fabergé eggs, he crafted many works of art, from brooches and necklaces to cigarette cases, miniature animal figurines and even a Buddha with moving parts which was once owned by Aristotle Onassis, and later his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
But let’s start with the eggs, since this is the big draw—or at least the most well-known aspect of his work. The museum’s collection includes an Imperial Easter Egg that was made for the Romanov Dynasty’s tercentenary in 1913, and which features miniature portraits of the tsars, as well as the Rothschild Easter egg, which was created as an engagement gift and later purchased at a Christie’s auction for $9 million euros ($9.7 million dollars).
The last Easter egg that Fabergé ever made is also on display—the Imperial Constellation Easter Egg that was made for Empress Alexandra in 1917. The constellation egg wasn’t finished due to the start of the Bolshevik Revolution, and was never gifted to the Imperial family; both the egg and Fabergé survived the revolution, though the jeweler was forced to flee to Switzerland for safety.
Much More Than Eggs
While I was properly impressed by the eggs—especially the detail work and of course the jewels—I fell in love with the many miniature animals that Fabergé crated, including mice, elephants, and of course, rabbits. One of my favorite displays included an 1894 silver and ruby decanter and shot glass set designed in the shape of hares that once belonged to Bulgaria’s Tsar Ferdinand—one of Fabergé’s most important clients. Glad to know that he and I share the same taste!
Another aspect of the museum that I appreciated was that it wasn’t only Fabergé’s work on display. Pieces by his contemporaries, including Bolin, Boucheron, Cartier, Khlebnikov, Falize, Ovchinnikov and Sazikov are also exhibited, and a permanent exhibition entitled Gold of the World features exquisite pieces from the 6th century to the mid-20th century by a range of artists. I was especially impressed by a 200-piece dinner set carved from gold that was the wedding service of the Maharaja of Patiala; created in 1922, I can’t even imagine what that set is worth today!
More than 800 objects are on display, all part of the collection of Alexander Ivanov, who was formerly the director of the Russian Museum. Even if you’re not obsessed with jeweled eggs, this museum is truly something special—as was the talent of a man who provided timeless treasures for castles, mansions, and members of royal families.
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