Between 1885 and 1916, Carl Fabergé made fifty jewelled eggs – Easter presents from Russia’s last two emperors to their wives. They have become the most famous surviving symbols of the Romanov Empire: both supreme examples of the jeweller’s art and the vulgar playthings of a decadent court. Given almost total artistic freedom, Fabergé and his designers had to conform to only three rules: that each year’s Easter present should be egg-shaped, that it should contain some surprise to amuse or delight its recipient, and that it should be different from any predecessor. The result was a series of creations demonstrating ingenuity and creativity for which there are few parallels in any other field. Their styles range from traditional Russian to Art Nouveau, and their materials from carved hardstone to exquisite enamelled gold. Their maker’s relentless search for novelty also means that they provide a fabulously quirky illustrated history of the decline of the Romanovs. Toby Faber wrote Fabergé’s Eggs: One Man’s Masterpieces and the End of an Empire, described by P.D. James as a ‘fascinating story which combines unique decorative art, contemporary culture, history and the murder of the Romanovs with the excitement of a crime novel’. The lecture is illustrated with pictures of the Romanovs and their palaces, and, of course, with photographs of the eggs themselves.
Tony Faber has written two works of narrative history, Stradivarius and Fabergé’s Eggs, published by Macmillan in the UK and Random House in the US, and given lectures associated with these two subjects at venues including The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Library of Congress and the Huntington Library, as well as a number of literary festivals. His career began with Natural Sciences at Cambridge and has been through investment banking, management consulting and five years as managing director of the publishing company founded by his grandfather, Faber and Faber, where he remains on the board. He is also non-executive Chairman of its sister company, Faber Music and a director of Liverpool University Press and the Copyright Licensing Agency.
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