Russian Art Nouveau jewellery
Art Nouveau Jewellery has “geographical” features. French Art Nouveau jewellery, for example, by Lucien Gaillard, Georges Fouquet, is masterly asymmetrical, while “the German mind” (Wilhelm von Cranach Lucas) tends to symmetry. Palette also varies, and in Russia it is different than in Europe. Russian Revival Style of the 1910s, called Neo-Russian Modern was influenced by medieval Russo-Byzantine tradition. Russian Art Nouveau jewellery was produced in Moscow in 1908-1917, the period before and during the World War I. Russian medieval designs and shapes were mixed with typical Belle Epoque forms and elements, resulting in a unique Russian jewelry style not seen anywhere else.
About the most renowned jeweler Faberge is little known. His personal archive disappeared in the revolution, and in the memoirs of contemporaries Carl Gustavovich Faberge remained closed, modest, almost recluse. But the history of jewelry masterpieces with a brand of Faberge has become worthy plot of the adventure novel.
Faberge was told to curtail production in July 1918, when the news about the murder of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and his entire family came to Petrograd. In November of the same year, Mr. Derick, secretary of the British Embassy, gave him the generous offer of the Queen of Great Britain (old client of the company): under the guise of diplomatic courier to leave with his wife abroad.
Famed jeweler did not think twice: “Give us 10 minutes to wear a coat and hat!”. The Englishman smiled knowingly: it was rumored that in addition to jewelry to $ 60 million seized by the Bolsheviks of the safes St. Petersburg and Moscow branch of Faberge, Carl has in store something else, well hidden away, that way for 45 million.
He was seventy-two years old, and he left his pride which witnessed unprecedented success – this magnificent house on the cellars, a four (one floor higher than the only serious competitor – Swede Bolin’s), combined dwellings and workshops, storage and shop.
In a new life Carl Faberge took with him a small bag. “Hopefully, with your baggage nothing will happen, – said the Englishman, nodding at the bag”. Even Bolsheviks did not dare to search diplomatic Courier. “Let them search if they want to”.
A good three decades Carl Faberge remained on the crest of popularity. Among his regular customers were the Bulgarian king, heir to the Austro-Hungarian kings and queens of England, Italy, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as the King of Siam by name Chulalonghorn.
“Anyone can buy my jewellery, because there are quite inexpensive items!” With the ease of a true artist Faberge gave equal rights to semi-precious gemstones, diamonds with glass, porcelain, bone, enamel. “If you compare my jewellery with such companies as Tiffany, Boucheron, Cartier, then they are probably more jewelry than mine. – He said in the same interview. – There can be found ready-made necklace for a half million rubles. But they are dealers and jewelers, but not artists!”
Art Nouveau Jewelry is famous for the fact of a combination of incongruous. On the one hand, precious metals, diamonds and pearls. On the other – the enamel and, more rarely, colored glass. The created works were so beautiful that the audience enthusiastically took the grande combination of enamel with diamonds and these ornaments, that were sold instantly. Russian Revival jewels were intended for a refined Moscow and St Petersburg Russophil clientele and were never mass produced. Most pieces are one of a kind. They rarely appear on the market today.
Here is one of 52 Easter eggs made for Alexandra in 1898 as the imperial Faberge gift, and became the first in the series of jewelry and interior products named “Lilies of the Valley Faberge style.” The Egg is made in the style of Art Nouveau. The egg of gold-coated translucent pink guilloche enamel, on a gold stand with four legs, decorated with lilies of the valley of green enamel, gold and freshwater pearls.
Faberge made this egg in uncharacteristic Art Nouveau style, but after it got sick with “floral theme” – and not only with lilies of the valley, but also pretty posies, twigs, standing in crystal glasses, vases that look quite alive, just frozen in eternity.