Fabergé Revealed, a Retrospective of Genuine Fabergé Pieces

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is hosting a unique retrospective called “Fabergé Revealed”. Géza von Habsburg, the main curator has spent almost two years going through hundreds of Fabergé pieces and forgeries to get the right pieces for the retrospective. The forgeries that Habsburg calls “Fauxbergé” were mainly the handiwork of Armand Hammer, the manufacturing tycoon who during the 1920s and 1930s supplied western currencies to the Soviets in exchange for their loot of aristocrats’ Fabergé jewelry, Easter eggs, picture frames and stone animals.

Hammer regularly unloaded these artifacts on American collectors as luxury accessory from the czars’ households. His Manhattan gallery created Fabergé pieces by using Fabergé hallmarking tools to reattribute early 1900s pieces made by other Russian goldsmiths or their French archrival Cartier. He routinely told the buyers that the wares had belonged to royalty. He played a very shady role at the time and it is virtually impossible to confirm as his records of the transactions seem to have vanished. He might have destroyed them intentionally.

Habsburg and his research team has gone through documents of several European archives for new clues about the collection. They found bilingual invoices for Fabergé. One copy was made in Russian for Nicholas II and a copy of the same was made in German for his Hessian wife, Alexandra. Most of the museum’s collection has come from a bequest by Lillian Thomas Pratt but most of the pieces are not genuine Fabergé pieces. The Virginia Museum has borrowed Fabergé eggs full of tiny paintings of the czars’ palaces from the estate of Matilda Geddings Gray. Arthur and Dorothy McFerrin have lent pieces that they acquired in 2009 at Sotheby’s in London.

Via: nytimes

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