Of Eggs and Jewels

“Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities; this article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media.”

This is Wikipedia’s definition of art. Sounds horribly complicated, doesn’t it? According to me, Art is very simple. Art is anything that we enjoy. Anything that makes us hold our breath for half a minute or gasp in wonder at the beauty of it. For, Art is nothing more other than beauty in its rawest form.

I can talk about art for a long time, considering Picasso, Van Gogh or even Mozart. But they’ve been enough appreciated, so let me talk instead about a lesser known person, Peter Carl Faberge. I first read about Faberge in Tinkle when I was very young. I was amazed. For here was a person who had had a new idea of art – no brush strokes on canvas for him, no. It was all about jewelled eggs.

It all started when Tsar Alexander III decided to gift his wife an Easter Egg in 1885 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. The task was given to Peter Faberge who created an exquisite egg called the Hen egg. It was made of gold, containing a gold hen with ruby eyes. This was the first of what would be a series of precious eggs called The Faberge eggs.

Peter Faberge was made “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown”. He made elaborate and intricately designed Easter eggs for the royal family every other and the only requirement was that the eggs should contain a special surprise. The surprised varied, with one egg being an actual working clock (Blue serpent clock egg) while another egg contained 12 miniature paintings of palaces and residences that were special to the Tsarina Alexandra (The rock crystal egg). The designs on the eggs became more elaborate by the year. The imperial coronation egg contained a velvet lined compartment which had a replica of the imperial coach that carried the Tsarina to the coronation. The coach actually had platinum tyres and diamond eagles, not to mention that the wheels moved, the doors opened and it had a tiny folding stair. Eggs were made each year except 1904 and 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War.

Now, the eggs reside in museums and with private collectors. Peter Fabergé died in Switzerland in 1920. The Fabergé trademark has since been sold several and is now owned by Fabergé Limited, which makes egg-themed jewellery. Even though a few of his eggs are lost today, Faberge is remembered for his innovation of creating masterpieces out of mere eggs. He showed the world that art needn’t be limited to canvases and paints.

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