Hi guys! This is Alex and today I’m going to tell you about one of the most fascinating and also my favorite places in St. Petersburg – the Faberge Museum. I think everyone knows the name Carl Faberge or at least heard about him once. I was surprised to know that the Faberge Museum is a privately owned Museum and was established just in 2013.
The Museum is located in the center of St. Petersburg, near the Nevskiy Prospect on Fontanka River Embankment 21 in the Shuvalov Palace, which was closed during 7 years for a big restoration before the opening of the Museum. This was a full- fledged restoration of the palace in its whole 200 – year history.
Now the Faberge Museum has rented this Palace for 50 years. The building is typical for the era of architectural eclecticism – you can see the elements of late classicism and neo – Renaissance. During the restoration the historical appearance of the Palace was recreated.
The idea to create this museum belongs to the Link of Times foundation and Russian businessman Victor Vekselber, who wanted to repatriate lost cultural valuables to Russia. After the revolution in the Russian Empire 1917 a lot of unique Faberge masterpieces were stolen and sold abroad.
In 2004 Victor Vekselberg purchased the unique collection of 9 Imperial Easter Eggs, created by Peter Carl Faberge, which was owned by the newspaper magnate Malcolm Forbes. These Easter eggs are the most famous and valuable among the Faberge works.
Vekselberg purchased the entire collection just before it came up for auction at Sotheby’s and paid more that $100 millions. Otherwise, the unique eggs would have been sold separately and the collection would be scattered all over the world. The president of Sotheby’s Bill Ruprect said that it was a unique case.
The fact that Vekselberg offered to purchase the whole collection and the idea to return the famous eggs to Russia influenced Ruprect to sell it just before the auction. Now the museum’s collection has more that 4000 masterpieces of decorative applied and fine arts, paintings, bronze and porcelain.
I was used hearing that Carl Peter Faberge was the most prominent jeweler of the beginning of the 20thcentury, but our tour guide told completely opposite information. He wasn’t good enough to make all these outstanding masterpieces but he had a great entrepreneurship skills.
He was able to find excellent masters and formed a perfect team of almost 500 workers. The Faberge House had a reputation of the number 1 in Russia and even in Europe. Among their clients were almost all Royal families and Russian and European aristocracy.
But in 1917 the time of prosperity and calmness ended and with the revolution became the epoch of uncertainty and chaos. Faberge and his family flew to Europe without anything and left his house in St. Petersburg. A lot of his masterpieces were nationalized, stolen or sold abroad.
Unfortunately his sons sold the brand name only for $25. 000 to a businessman in New York, and later the brand was sold for $1,5 billion. Now it belongs to a South African businessman.
The Imperial Easter Eggs
The highlight of the Faberge Museum’s collection are the above mentioned 9 Imperial Easter eggs, that were created for the last two Romanov Tsars – Alexander III and Nicolas II. It is remarkable that this collection contains the first and the last of the Imperial eggs.
The first Easter egg is the Jeweled Hen became the first in a series of 50 eggs. It was ordered by the Tsar Alexander III and given to his wife Maria Fedorovna in 1885. She was so surprised and excited about this Jeweled Hen egg, and so it became a new tradition to order every year a new Easter egg by Faberge.
The Tsar required only that each egg should be unique and must contain a surprise inside. Another famous example of a Faberge eggs is the Coronation egg. The egg was made for the celebration of the anniversary of the coronation of Nicolas II in 1897 and contains a surprise – it opens in two halves and inside is the tiny golden carriage. This one just looks amazing!
Paintings and icons
The collection has a significant number of valuable paintings and icons. Among them are such a famous work as The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris by Auguste Renoir – one of the leading impressionist, the Lake Sevan by Ivan Aivazovsky, The Judgment of Paris by Konstantin Makovsky and paintings by Vasily Polenov, Heinrich Semiradsky.
One of my absolutely favorite is the Lake Sevan by Ivan Aivazovsky. The sea is definitely his element – the colors of water looked so naturally. I like that all the paintings were illuminated in a specific way, which made the colors and emotions much brighter.
One of the halls is dedicated to the icons, I think the Gothic hall. Russian Orthodox Icon The Lord Almighty is one of the most ancient, dated back to 1599. Another famous icon is The Saint Serafim Sarovsky painted in 1903.
The entire collection of Museum contains more than 4000 work as it was mentioned above. Besides the Eggs, painting and icons, there are many other interesting items, such as cigarette cases, snuffboxes, table clocks – all of them are luxury masterpieces decorated with gold, silver and gems.
Among my favorite is the Album with the photographs of Moscow landmarks decorated with amethysts, silver and leather. I never saw such a luxury book! It was given to the French President Emile Loubet in 1902 from so – called “French colony” – French diaspora lived in Moscow.
There are much more interesting things like a Writing set, Punch set, Tea and Coffee set and Wild Pansy Flower made of rock crystals, diamonds, gold and which looks like a real one.
I highly recommend visiting the Faberge Museum, if you happen to be in St. Petersburg! You will enjoy the sophisticated art and immerse yourself in the world of luxury. All of these masterpieces demonstrate the high level of Russian jewelry and the power of the Roman dynasty.
If you walk along the Nevsky prospect in the direction to the Main Railway Station, turn to the left just before the Anichkov bridge and go to the House number 21 – this is the Shuvalov Palace or Faberge Museum. On the first floor it has a nice cafe and a souvenir shop, where you can buy a nice jewelry.
If you are looking where to stay in St. Petersburg nearby the Nevsky Prospect, I can recommend the Hotel Nevsky Kontur for a budget stay. One single room was for about $40 in a low season and breakfast was included. The Hotel is about 150 meters from Nevsky Prospect and for me it was a perfect location.
Guys, if you have any questions or comments, or would like to share your experience to travel to St. Petersburg, please leave them below, and I would be more than happy to answer them!!!
Written by Alex.