Frances Welch

Mineral Monstrosities

Fabergé’s Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces that Outlived an Empire

By

Macmillan 336pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Amongst the most poignant elements of revolution are the fits of pique displayed by members of the old order. There is a grim hiatus as the losers fail to grasp that their struggles for status have become struggles for their lives.

Carl Fabergé supplied the Russian Imperial family with elaborate jewelled Easter eggs from 1885 to 1916. He took pride in delivering the eggs in person to the Tsarina and the Dowager Empress. But shortly before Easter 1917, a month after the Tsar’s abdication, Fabergé was upset to be told that his Good Friday visit to the palace at Tsarskoe Selo had been cancelled. He complained roundly to the leader of the new provisional government, Alexander Kerensky. He was owed, he said, a full 125,000 roubles for the Karelian Birch Egg made for the Dowager and the Blue Tsarevich Constellation Egg made for the Tsarina. Could Kerensky himself pass on the eggs and the invoice, dated 25 April 1917 and addressed, chillingly, to the Tsar as simply Nicholas Romanov?

Follow Literary Review on Twitter