Catherine the Great Easter Egg
Hillwood Mansion, Icon Room
Fabergé (firm); Wigström, Henrik Immanuel (workmaster); Zuev, Vasilii Ivanovich (miniatures)
RUSSIA: Saint Petersburg
Gold, diamonds, pearls, opalescent enamel, opaque enamel, silver, platinum, mirror
H. 4 3/4 in. (without stand)
Henrik Wigström, Fabergé's last head workmaster, created this egg for Nicholas II to present to his mother, Maria Fedorovna, on Easter morning in 1914. Vasilii Zuev, a designer employed by the Fabergé firm, painted the monochrome en camaïeu pink enamel panels with miniature allegorical scenes of the arts and sciences after French artist François Boucher. According to a letter from Maria Fedorovna to her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, the surprise in this egg was a mechanical sedan chair, carried by two blackamoors, with Catherine the Great seated inside (it has now been lost). To feature Catherine the Great, who prided herself on being a patron of the arts and sciences, as part of the surprise is certainly in keeping with this elaborate egg's style and imagery.
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973