PETER CARL FABERGE. LEGASY OF A
As the reign of Nicholas II continued, discontentment grew and Russia readied itself for change. By 1904 the situation was dangerously volatile. Leo Tolstoy pled with the czar to listen to the people and work towards national reform, writing:
(Letter to Nicholas II from Leo Tolstoy, 1902).
Tension mounted until it reached the breaking point on January 9, 1905, when a crowd of over a hundred thousand peasants gathered at the palace to present the czar with a list of complaints about working conditions. Nicholas refused to sympathize with his people, and when he failed to appear, soldiers panicked and began to shoot into the crowd. Although many died that day, the most significant outcome was that the people’s perception of their ruler had unalterably changed. “The myth about a kind ‘czar-priest’ was shot apart, along with the unarmed crowd” ( Nemirovskaya 313). They no longer viewed him as a divinely appointed ruler and protector, but as an uncaring tyrant. The people demanded reform, and in taking the first step away from imperial traditions, Nicholas was forced to adopt a new system of constitutional monarchy in 1905. He expressed his feelings about the reluctant change thus: "I have the firm and absolute faith that the destiny of Russia, my own fate and that of my family are in the hands of Almighty God, who has placed me where I am. Whatever may happen, I shall bow to His will, conscious that I have never had any other thought but that of serving the country He has entrusted to me” (Treasures).
As the stress of political unrest grew, Russia looked to its past,
both near and distant, for moral support, and Faberge’s eggs from this
period reflect this return to history. Many of the eggs served as mementoes
to the royal family of better times. The Alexander Palace Egg is a replica
of the Romanovs’ favorite country estate and the Standart Egg is modeled
after the royal yacht. Faberge chose to embody the grandeur of past
generations in many of these eggs. An example is the Peter the Great
Egg, which features a recreation of Peter’s monument in St. Petersburg
in the classical style. In 1913 Faberge crafted the Romanov Tercentenary
Egg to commemorate the 300-year rule of the Romanov dynasty, as well
as to uplift the morale of Nicholas II in the face of current political
setbacks. It is a proud work, adorned externally with the faces of past
rulers and containing a globe depicting the expansion of the Russian
empire from the time of the first Romanov ruler.
Pictures of select Imperial Eggs
The Lilies of the Valley Egg – 1898 Pink was Alexandra’s favorite color, and her favorite flower was the lily of the valley. The pictures are of Nicholas II and his two oldest daughters. The flowers are made of pearls and diamonds.
The Trans-Siberian Railway Egg – 1900 This egg commemorates the completion of the trans- siberian railway line. On the silver part in the middle is etched a railway line map, with the stations of various jewels. The train is of gold and platinum with an ingenious wind-up mechanism. The cars are individually distinct: a gentlemen’s car, a restaurant, and even a traveling church are part of the foot-long locomotive.