Fabergé Agate Model of a Goose
St. Petersburg, circa 1900
Realistically carved, with rose-cut diamond eyes. Height 3 1/8 inches (8 cm).
Christie's Geneva, 11 May 1982, lot 256 (part)
Christie's, New York, April 20, 2001, lot 64
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Fabergé Hofjuwelier der Zaren, December 5, 1986 - February 22, 1987, No. 293.
Géza von Habsburg, Fabergé Hofjuwelier der Zaren, Munich, 1986, p. 193.
The prototypes of Fabergé's hardstone miniature sculptures of animals were, according to Franz Birbaum, senior master craftsman for Fabergé, Chinese and Japanese gemstone carvings (F. Birbaum, The History of the House of Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1992, p. 42). In fact, a strong Asian current can be felt throughout Fabergé's production, from hardstone animals and flower studies to silver. Carl Fabergé himself was an admirer and avid collector of Japanese netsuke, and the precision of detail and similarities in modeling between netsuke and Fabergé's animals is immediately apparent.
The Asian influence on Fabergé's production of hardstone animals can be seen in the present lot. Two animals held in the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow show a similar influence: a carnelian model of a fish and a carnelian fly-shaped toilet case (T. Muntian, The World of Fabergé, Moscow, 2000, Nos. 33-34, p. 69). Further examples include a bowenite model of a sparrow (From the Collection of King George I of the Hellenes, Christie's, London, January 24, 2007, lot 370) and a nephrite model of a dragonfly from The Woolf Family Collection (The Walters Art Museum, The Fabergé Menagerie, Baltimore, 2003, No. 116).
The Russian Imperial Family were avid collectors of Fabergé's hardstone animals, including those with Asian influences. In February 1904, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna purchased four models of geese from Fabergé, two carved from carnelian and two from Japanese agate (R.R. Gafifullin, Works of the Fabergé Firm, Late XIX -- Early XX Century in the Collection of the State Pavlovsk Museum, St. Petersburg, 2013, Nos. 1328-1329, 1331, p. 121). In December 1902, Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna jointly purchased a Japanese goose carved from agate (R.R. Gafifullin, op cit, No. 4657, p. 255).
C Property from a Virginia Private Collection
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