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In summer 2011, VMFA will feature the largest collection of Fabergé in the United States. The exhibition, Fabergé Revealed, includes more than 500 objects and will be at VMFA July 9 – October 2. The Russian jeweler Karl Fabergé crafted objects for the Russian imperial family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including specially commissioned Easter eggs. VMFA’s collection, the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, includes five of the thirteen Russian imperial Easter eggs that are in the United States.
In addition to showcasing VMFA’s extensive Fabergé collection, the exhibition will feature loans from three important private collections. The collection of Matilda Geddings Gray of Louisiana has loaned its rare Napoleonic Egg and its celebrated Imperial Lilies of the Valley Basket. More than twenty noteworthy loans from the Arthur and Dorothy McFerrin Foundation Collection include the elegant Nobel Ice Egg and the spectacular Empress Josephine Tiara. Additionally, in a complementary exhibition of the Hodges Collection, more than 100 pieces will come from the family collection of Virginia-born Daniel Hodges, including the historic Bismark Box and the monumental Coiled Serpent Paperweight.
Thanks to the generosity of Lillian Thomas Pratt and other donors, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts owns one of the finest Fabergé collections in existence. In parallel with the redesign of the permanent galleries, a major exhibition will present the entire collection, contextualize it in a rare opportunity with important loans from other collections, and be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue of the collection incorporating the latest scholarship and research. Fabergé Revealed — the title of both exhibition and catalogue — is a project that has been led by the greatest living scholar of Fabergé, Dr. Géza von Habsburg, who has curated numerous exhibitions on the topic worldwide and is the author of several catalogues and books. This dazzling exhibition will be a landmark in the appreciation of Fabergé, jeweler to the Tsars.
As well as the 400-plus objects in the VMFA collection, the exhibition will include almost 150 loan objects, drawn primarily from three significant US-based collections. The Hodges Family Collection has been assembled by Virginia-native Daniel Hodges within the last two decades, and demonstrates how the collecting of Fabergé remains active and vital in the current age. Highlights of the collection include the Imperial Bismark Box and the Coiling Serpent Paperweight. Under the title Collecting Fabergé Today, the Hodges' collection will be presented as a fascinating story within the Fabergé Revealed exhibition.
The exhibition will also feature a number of extraordinary objects from two other collections. The first was assembled at the same time as the Pratt collection. Matilda Geddings Gray of New Orleans was an avid collector of Fabergé and her collection remains in the possession of a family foundation. Formerly on loan to the New Orleans Museum of Art, part of the collection is now displayed at the Cheekwood Museum and Gardens in Nashville, Tennessee. Two important loans from the collection are the extraordinary and delicate Lilies of the Valley Basket — the favorite possession of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna — and the Imperial Napoleonic Egg of 1912, both key works in the Fabergé oeuvre. From a private collection in Texas come some quite extraordinary Fabergé objects: a diamond encrusted tiara, the Tsarina’s pink enameled clock, a green enamel and gold Imperial presentation box and, most remarkably, the Nobel Ice Egg, white enamel Easter egg commissioned by Swedish industrialist Dr. Emanuel Nobel, who was instrumental in the creation of the Nobel Foundation and the Nobel prizes.
Imperial Peter the Great Egg
Copyright VMFA 2011
Copyright VMFA 2011
Miniature Easter Egg Pendant
Copyright VMFA 2011
Fabergé firm, St. Petersburg, 1908-17. Gold, platinum, enamel, rose-cut and large brilliant-cut diamonds. The Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection
Lilies of the Valley Basket
Fabergé firm, St. Petersburg, before 1899. Gold, silver, nephrite, pearls, rose-cut diamonds. The Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection
Nobel Ice Egg
Fabergé firm, St. Petersburg, 1908-17. Gold, enamel, rock crystal, brilliant and rose-cut diamonds. The Arthur and Dorothy McFerrin Foundation Collection
Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1899. Briolette, pear-shaped and old-cut diamonds, gold, platinum. The Arthur and Dorothy McFerrin Foundation Collection
Fabergé firm, St. Petersburg, 1886-1896. Gold, enamels, pearls, ivory. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt, 47.20.352
Imperial Column Portrait Frame
Fabergé, St. Petersburg. Gold, diamonds, ivory. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Statuette of a Sailor
Fabergé firm, St. Petersburg, early 20th century. Aventurine quartz, lapis lazuli, sapphires, onyx, jadenite. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt, 47.30.268
Fabergé. Silver, chrysopase, amethysts. Gift of Jerome and Rita Gans, 97.93