Published: December 4, 2007
The Rothschild Fabergé egg, a previously unrecorded addition to no more than 12 documented examples known to have been made to imperial standards for anyone other than the Russian imperial family, sold for $18.5 million to a private Russian bidder at Christie’s on November 28, establishing a new world record price for a Faberge work of art and for a Russian object.
Offered at the auction of Russian works of art at Christie’s King Street saleroom and highlighting the firm’s Russian Art Week series of auctions, the Rothschild Fabergé egg was a gift from Beatrice Ephrussi (1864‱934) (neé de Rothschild) to Germaine Halphen (1884‱975) on the occasion of the latter’s engagement to Beatrice’s younger brother, Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868‱949). They married in 1905 and the egg has remained in the family ever since.
The egg is a superlative masterpiece by a master craftsman. Exceptionally large with brilliantly chased varicolored gold work and enameled in Fabergé’s most exciting and lively color †a translucent pink †its face is a clock and it contains an automaton cockerel. Every hour, the diamond-set cockerel pops up from inside the egg, flaps his wings four times and then nods his head three times while opening and shutting his beak and crowing. Each performance lasts approximately 15 seconds, before the clock strikes the hour on a bell.
The egg is hallmarked under the enamel by Fabergé’s leading workmaster Michael Perchin and is further signed and dated K. Fabergé, 1902. This is one of only three known examples with both a clock and an automaton, the others being the imperial cockerel egg of 1900 and the Chanticleer egg of 1904.
A complete review of the sale will appear in a future issue.
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