A fancy-coloured diamond cluster ring, by Bulgari, circa 1965

Some lucky person is going to pick up a decorative Easter egg at a car boot sale one day and find they have won the arts lottery when it sells for £20m” says author Cynthia Coleman Sparke, whose book is being launched at Bonhams.

LONDON.- With Easter drawing near and the recent discovery of The Third Imperial Easter Egg, thought lost for over 100 years, all eyes are on the legendary Russian designer, Fabergé. Each of the 50 Fabergé eggs created for the Tsar took one year to complete - from the original conception to delivery on Good Friday each Easter. 

Russian Decorative Arts is an informative guide to Russian artworks and their historical context written by Cynthia Coleman Sparke, Russian Art consultant at Bonhams. Published by Antique Collectors' Club, the book covers a wide range of crafts from Fabergé, jewellery, woodwork, hardstone, glass and porcelain to precious metals, explained against the fascinating backdrop of Russian history. Each topic is detailed with an illustrated chapter which introduces the creative technique, its specific Russian characteristics and an overview of the principle makers. 

Pre-Revolutionary Russia is explored through the glittering artefacts of the Tsarist era from as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries and focusing in particular on works created in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, as night fell on the Imperial rule. 

Russia's last great Imperial celebration took place at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg with the lavish ball of 1913 celebrating 300 years of Romanov rule. The finest gowns, jewels, snuff boxes, and banqueting tableware of the Tsarist era were sumptuously displayed then for the last time. 

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 brought such opulence to an end. In 1918, while under house arrest in Ekaterinberg, the entire Russian Royal family was executed by Bolshevik authorities and the Imperial era ended permanently. 

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians have been eager to repatriate their lost heritage. Works by jewellers and silversmiths to the Tsar and Tsarinas are particularly sought after today as status symbols, with the market for pre-Revolutionary decorative arts touching a wide audience - from museum curators to flea markets bargain hunters. 

Cynthia Coleman Sparke was born into to a family of Russian art collectors and has lived on and off in Moscow and St Petersburg. After running the Russian department at Christie's New York, she worked with the Fabergé and Imperial porcelain holdings of the Hillwood Museum in Washington D.C. (the largest collection of Russian decorative arts outside of Russia). Later, Cynthia worked on a project in St Petersburg at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, helping with the restoration of Tsar Nicholas II's last residence - the subject of her Master's thesis from the Bard Graduate Centre. She is currently a consultant for Bonhams auctioneers, specialising in Russian works of art. 

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An underglaze-blue and yellow enameled dish, Kangxi Mark and Period

An Imperial Porcelain Manufactory Easter egg, c.1860. Photo Bonhams.

the central circular reserve with a finely painted view of the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange and the Rostral Columns, the obverse with gilt-tooled foliate design
height: 9 cm. (3 ½ in.). Sold for £12,000 (€14,473) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A finely painted lacquer ormolu-mounted Lukhutin Easter egg, 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

with the Anastasis and St. Mary Magdalene; inscribed on the interior From the St. Petersburg Old Believers on receiving the priesthood, with suspension loop and original tassel, with blue and red Imperial Palace inventory number; height excluding suspension rings and tassel: 16 cm. (6 ¼ in.). Estimate £6,000 - 8,000 (€7,200 - 9,600). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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An Imperial Porcelain Manufactory Easter egg, c.1890, painted with the Ascension of the Virgin and a crucifix on an elaborate geometric ground. Photo Bonhams.

with suspension loop and original tassel, with blue and red Imperial Palace inventory number; height excluding tassel: 11.5 cm. (4 ½ in.). Sold for £7,800 (€9,407) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

From a design by the Moscow architect Alexander Kaminsky. For a comparable Easter egg see Anne Odom, Russian Imperial Porcelain at Hillwood, Washington, fig. 73, p.95

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A collection of sixteen porcelain Easter eggs, 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

Sold for £7,800 (€9,407) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A large Imperial Porcelain Easter egg, c.1880. Photo Bonhams.

finely painted with youthful portraits of the Saviour and John the Baptist, signed with initials N.S.; height: 12 cm. (4 ¾ in.). Sold for £9,000 (€10,855) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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Two porcelain Easter eggs, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, late 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

one painted with flowers on a white ground and with the cypher of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the other with foliate swags on a pale green ground; height: 9 cm. (3 ½ in.) and 11.5 cm. (4 ½ in.); (2). Estimate £4,000 - 6,000 (€4,800 - 7,200). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A silver-gilt Easter egg, maker's mark I.Kh., Moscow, 1871. Photo Bonhams.

with spiralled engine-turning, the ends with foliate engraving, the middle inscribed Khristos voskrese; height: 8 cm. (3 ¼ in.). Estimate £900 - 1,200 (€1,100 - 1,400). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A Fabergé opaque blue enamel and diamond-set miniature pendant Easter egg, late 19th century, workmaster August Holmström. Photo Bonhams.

decorated with ribbon-tied bows and swags set with diamonds, workmaster's initials, 56 standard; height: 2.2 cm. (7/8 in.). Sold for £6,600 (€7,960) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A unusual gold-mounted miniature ivory pendant Easter egg. Photo Bonhams.

the swivelling gold mount terminating in a miniature Imperial crown, the egg pierced and containing a miniature photographic image of the Holy Family, after Raphael, marks indistinct; height inc, suspension loop: 3.2 cm. (1 ¼ in.). Sold for £2,400 (€2,894) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

Provenance: Phillips London, Bond Street: Fine Antique Jewels, Fabergé and 20th Century Diamond Jewellery, 28 April, 1998, lot 62

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A Fabergé gold pendant miniature Easter egg, workmaster August Holmström, St. Petersburg, late 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

the body decorated with fluting, the base set with cabochon sapphire; height: 2.2 cm. (7/8 in.). Estimate £4,000 - 6,000 (€4,800 - 7,200). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A gold-silver and enamel pendant miniature Easter egg, possibly Fabergé, late 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

decorated with salmon-pink guilloché panels on a white ground, the central band inscribed Khristos voskress, maker's initials I.B.; height: 2.5 cm. (1 in.). Sold for £4,800 (€5,789) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006.

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A Fabergé silver egg-shaped box, Moscow, c.1890. Photo Bonhams.

finely repoussé and chased with rocaille scrolling, the hinged lid similarly decorated, maker's mark in full beneath Imperial warrant; length: 15 cm. (6 in.). Sold for £40,800 (€49,209) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2006

Literature: Dr. Geza von Hapsburg, Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and his World, London, 2000, No.134, p.98

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A glass easter egg, circa 1840, attributed to the Imperial GlassworksPhoto Bonhams.

the ovoid body formed of turquoise opaline glass and tooled gilding height: 8.3 cm. (3 1/4 in.). Estimate £500 - 600 (€600 - 720). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A Fabergé gold guilloché enamel pendant egg, workmaster Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg, 1899-1908Photo Bonhams.

the transluscent enamel sections representing the Russian national colours, 56 standard; height inc. suspension loop: 2.5 cm. (1 in.). Sold for £3,600 (€4,342) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A Fabergé miniature egg, workmaster August Hollming, St. Petersburg, circa 1900Photo Bonhams.

the body enamelled with yellow floral bands within transluscent white guilloché ground alternating with translucent blue sections, suspended from gold loop, 56 standard; height inc. suspension loop: 2.5 cm. (1 in.). Sold for £3,120 (€3,763) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A pendant easter egg, Friedrich Kochli, St. Petersburg, circa 1900Photo Bonhams.

the gold body applied with varicolour gold floral swag, set with diamonds and cabochon sapphire, suspended from gold loop, 56 standard; length inc. suspension loop: 2 cm. (3/4 in.). Sold for £1,920 (€2,315) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A silver-gilt pendant icon, maker's marks indistinct, Moscow, circa 1900Photo Bonhams.

formed as an egg opening to reveal painted figure of Christ, the cover engraved with cross and 'Christ is Risen' in Cyrillic, 84 standard; height: 6.5 cm. (2 1/2 in.). Sold for £1,440 (€1,736) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A pendant easter egg, Friedrich Kochli, St. Petersburg, circa 1900Photo Bonhams.

the gold body densely chased with geometric floral motif set with pink cabochon stone, suspended from gold loop, 56 standard; height inc. suspension loop: 2 cm. (3/4 in.). Estimate £2,000 - 3,000 (€2,400 - 3,600). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A gold guilloché enamel pendant egg, maker's mark indistinct, circa 1900Photo Bonhams.

inset with ruby-set Cyrillic letters 'XV' for 'Christ is Risen', 56 standard; height inc. suspension loop: 2 cm. (3/4 in.). Estimate £600 - 800 (€720 - 960). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 31 May 2007.

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A miniature pendant egg, maker's mark Ia. A (Cyrillic) probably for Fabergé workmaster Karl Gustav Halmar Armfelt, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the gold body with translucent red enamel over engine-turned ground set with floral garland, 56 standard; height with suspension loop: 1.7cm (1/2in). Sold for £3,120 (€3,763) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008. 

Provenance: Private collection, England.

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A miniature egg pendant, Fabergé workmaster August Hollming, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the white guilloché body set with jewelled flowers, 56 standard; height with suspension loop: 2cm (1/2in). Sold for £3,840 (€4,631) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A miniature pendant egg, Fabergé workmaster Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the body with white opaque and translucent green enamel sections surrounding four pink circular rose-cut diamond and enamelled panels; length with suspension loop: 2cm (1/2in). Sold for £7,200 (€8,684) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, circa 1850. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, depicting Christ wearing a crown of thorns with gilt reverse; height: 9cm (3 1/2in). Sold for £5,520 (€6,657) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

The offered lot is painted from an engraving after Guido Reni’s Christ Crowned with Thorns, 1639-1640 in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

For a similar example, see also Tamara Kudriavtseva and Harold Whitbeck, Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs, Merrell, London, 2001, ill. 80, p.115.

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A porcelain Easter egg, probably Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, mid 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, Christ the Saviour wears a red tunic, His right hand raised in blessing, a globe surmounted by a cross in His left, engraved sunburst on gilt ground to reverse; height: 12cm (4 1/2in). Sold for £5,040 (€6,078) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

The miniature is a copy of Christ the Saviour by T A Neff, 1848, from the main iconostasis of St. Isaac's Cathedral, located to the right of the Royal Doors in the first row. For a comparable example, see Tamara Kudriavtseva and Harold Whitbeck, Russian Imperial Porcelain Easter Eggs, Merrell, London, 2001, ill. 98, p.132.

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A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, circa 1870. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, depicting Mary and Child finely painted on yellow ground with sunburst to gilt reverse;height: 9cm (3 1/2in). Estimate £3,000 - 4,000 (€3,600 - 4,800). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A porcelain topographical Easter egg, probably St. Petersburg, circa 1890. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, the rectangular reserve painted with view of the Admiralty, gilt reverse; height: 7cm (2 1/2in). Estimate £3,000 - 5,000 (€3,600 - 6,000). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A porcelain topographical Easter egg, probably St. Petersburg, circa 1890. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, the quatrefoil reserve painted with a view of the Moscow Kremlin, gilt reverse engraved with Cyrillic X.B {Khristos Voskres]; height: 7cm (2 1/2in). Estimate £2,500 - 2,800 (€3,000 - 3,400). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A porcelain topographical Easter egg, probably St. Petersburg, circa 1890. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, the reserve painted with a view of the Alexander Column, gilt reverse; height: 6cm (2in). Estimate £2,500 - 2,700 (€3,000 - 3,300). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A large papier-mache Easter egg, probably Lukhutin, Moscow, 19th century. Photo Bonhams.
painted in polychrome with the Anastasis and a view of the Moscow Kremlin on the reverse; height: 15.5cm (6in). Estimate £1,200 - 1,800 (€1,400 - 2,200).  Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 9 Jun 2008.

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A jewelled gold miniature pendant egg, maker's mark KF in Cyrillic. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid body chased to simulate a chick emerging from an eggshell, 56 standard; height including suspension loop: 2.8cm (1in). Sold for £2,400 (€2,894) at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 24 Nov 2008.

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A jewelled gold miniature pendant egg, maker's mark AT, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid body hung enriched with jewel-mounted pendant, 56 standard; height with suspension hoop: 2.4cm (1/2in). Estimate £2,000 - 3,000 (€2,400 - 3,600). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 24 Nov 2008.

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A jewelled gold miniature pendant egg, maker's mark indistinct, Odessa, 1908-1917. Photo Bonhams.

the diamond-mounted ovoid body applied with wirework, 56 standard; height: 2cm (1/2in). Estimate £1,500 - 2,000 (€1,800 - 2,400). Unsold at Bonhams, Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 24 Nov 2008.

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A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, late 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

decorated with impressed and gilded crowned cypher of Empress Maria Fedorovna against 'Sang de Boeuf' glazed ground, with similarly decorated strapwork borders around the apertures; height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £2,880 (€3,473) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

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A silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel Easter egg, bears mark of Sazikov Firm, St. Petersburg, 1870. Photo Bonhams.

the body with scrolling foliate motifs on a stippled gilt ground within scrolling turquoise beaded bands, with Russian Imperial Eagle in shaded green enamel within a circular reserve on the bottom of the egg, 84 silver standard; length: 10cm (3 5/8in). Estimate £3,000 - 5,000 (€3,600 - 6,000). Unsold at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A large wucai cylindrical vase, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period

A finely painted lacquered papier-mâché Easter egg, 19th century.Photo Bonhams.

with panoramic view of the Kremlin and the Great Kremlin Palace, reverse with the Anastasis, inscribed on the interior in Cyrillic 'Christ is Risen', with suspension loop and original tassel; height excluding suspension rings and tassel: 11.5cm (4 1/2in). Sold for £1,800 (€2,171) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A large wucai dish, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, second half 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting the figure of Saint Olga holding a cross in an oval burnished gilt frame incribed in Cyrillic 'St. Tsarina Olga'; reverse with a star in a sun-burst enclosed in ornamental burnished gilt frame, signed with initials A.T. in Cyrillic (L.R.); height: 10cm (4in). Sold for £8,640 (€10,420) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A pair of sapphire and diamond earclips, by Aletto Brothers

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, second half 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting a figure of Saint Helena in an oval burnished-gilt frame inscribed 'St. Tsar. Elena' in Cyrillic, the reverse painted deep purple; height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £8,640 (€10,420) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A powder blue and gilt decorated phoenix-tail vase, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain factory, last quarter 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting the figure of Saint Constantine in elaborate lavender- coloured robe and holding a sceptre within an oval burnished border, on the top inscribed in Cyrillic 'St. Tsar. Konstantin', reverse with a star in a sunburst enclosed in a burnished-gilt frame; signed (lower right) with artist's initials 'V.B.' in Cyrillic; height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £8,400 (€10,131) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A sapphire and diamond bracelet, circa 1925

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, second half 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting Saint Paul within an ornamental gilded border, inscribed on the top in Cyrillic 'St. Apostle Paul', reverse with ornamental cross imitating enamel painted against deep orange background; height 12cm (4 3/4in). Sold for £4,200 (€5,065) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

A sapphire and diamond necklace

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, second half of 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting Saint Filaret Milostivyi in celadon green robe and carmine red cloak with inscription on top 'Filaret Milostivyi' in Cyrillic, in an oval burnished-gilt frame, the reverse with star burst on a gilded ground within gilded frame, signed in Cyrillic 'F.T.' for Fedor Tarachkov (1838-1898); height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £7,200 (€8,684) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

Property title: Estate of Irina Roublon Belotelkin, San Francisco

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A guilloché enamelled and jewelled gold scent bottle by Fabergé with marks for workmaster Michael Perchin, St. Petersburg, circa 1890.

the ovoid body enamelled translucent strawberry-red over wavy ground applied with diamond and cabochon sapphire-set foliate motif, the screw-top lid gadrooned and set with enamel-enriched Empress Elizabeth coin opening to reveal cork-lined stopper, Cyrillic M.P to collar; contained within a Russian silver and enamel Easter egg with silk lining marked in Cyrillic for the Imperial Stroganoff School, the strawberry-red hinged body applied with a crowned 'A' and Cyrillic 'Kh. V' to reverse; in fitted wood case; height of scent-bottle: 2.7cm (1 1/8in).; height of large egg: 6.5cm (2 1/2in). (3). Sold for £28,800 (€34,736) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2009.

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's, 21 March 1966, lot 112

The Imperial Stroganov Central Industrial Art Academy, or Stroganov School, served as an established advocate for a return to the native Russian ornamentation which filtered through to the Fabergé workshops. The director of the School, Viktor Butovskii, had published a compilation of Russian ornament in 1870-1873, Histoire de l'ornement russe which included stylised birds and beasts which were incorporated in silver mounts on wooden and ceramic objects from the firm. Some Fabergé designers trained at the school and brought with them a Neo-Russian design vocabulary that translated into commercial applications of the new Russian style (see lot 235 sold in these rooms, 31 May 2007). Feodor Rückert's sons Pavel and Feodor studied at the Stroganov School before joining their father's studio, so the cross-fertilisation between the School and Fabergé's output can be traced on multiple levels (see Wendy Salmond, Arts and Crafts in Late Imperial Russia, Cambridge, 1996, pp. 28-30; Anne Odom, 'Fabergé: The Moscow Workshops', Habsburg and Lopato (eds.), Fabergé: Imperial Jeweller, Harry Abrams, NY, 1994 pp. 104-; G.G. Smorodinova and B.L. Ulyanova, 'The Russiam Master Goldmiths', Hill (ed.), Fabergé and the Russian Master Goldsmiths, Wings Books, NY, 1989, p. 29).

A sapphire single-stone ring, circa 1950

A porcelain Easter egg, probably Imperial porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, early 20th century. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, depicting St. Sergei finely painted against gilt ground, sang de boeuf reverse; sold with wooden stand; height: 12cm (4 3/4in). Sold for £14,400 (€17,368) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 30 Nov 2009

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A gold-mounted, enamelled and wood miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the gold-mounted hinged body opening at cabochon pushpiece to reveal Empress Elizaveta coin against red guilloché ground, 56 standard; height: 2.5cm (1/2in). Sold for £4,200 (€5,065) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 7 Jun 2010.

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A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, circa 1915Photo Bonhams.

the white body enriched with gilt crowned monogram of Grand Duchess Tatiana Nicholaevna; height: 6.5cm (2 1/2in). Sold for £1,320 (€1,592) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 7 Jun 2010.

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A porcelain egg, probably Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the Mother of God with Child to obverse and Lamb of God to reverse, both on gilt tooled ground against white border with floral garland; height: 6.8cm (2 1/2in). Estimate £2,500 - 3,500 (€3,000 - 4,200). Unsold at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 7 Jun 2010.

A sapphire and diamond ring, circa 1920

A porcelain Easter egg, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, second half 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

depicting the figure of St. Dmitrii Rostovskii holding a sceptre in one hand and blessing with another, within an oval burnished frame inscribed in Cyrillic Dmitrii Rostovskii, reverse engraved with sun burst pattern with ornamental border, signed with initials 'A.K.' for Andrei Kirsanov (died 1887) (lower right); height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £14,400 (€17,368) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 1 Dec 2010.

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A fine papier-mâché and lacquer Easter egg, Russian, Lukhutin Factory, Moscow, late 19th century. Photo Bonhams.

the front side finely painted with egg tempera and gold leaf against blue lacquer depicting the Descent into Hell showing Christ pulling Adam from the sarcophagus into eternal life, the reverse with Saint Elizabeth named in gold letters; the interior lacquered red and inscribed in Cyrillic 'From the Moscow Old Believers Receiving the Holy Sacrament', fitted with suspension ring; height: 18.5cm (7in). Sold for £6,000 (€7,236) at Bonhams, The Russian sale London, New Bond Street, 8 Jun 2011.

PROVENANCE: The egg was purportedly offered by the last Empress Alexandra Fedorovna (1872-1918) to the mother of Prince Felix Yussupov
Prince Felix Yussupov gifted the egg to his lawyer Serge Korganov
Thence by direct decent

EXHIBITED: Münster, Museum für Lackkunst, The school of Palekh, October 2010 February 2011

LITERATURE: Kostbare Ostereier aus dem Zarenreich: aus der Sammlung Adult Peter Goop Vaduz, Hirmer Verlag, Munchen, 1998, p. 215, nr. 110.
Ivan Bentchev, Ikony Svjatych Pokrovitelej, Interbook, Moscow, 2007

The egg comes from the Lukhutin Factory in Danilkovo near Moscow. The painting was most likely executed by a master from Palekh living in Moscow at the end of the 19th century. The scene depicting the Descent Into Hell portrays Christ in the Eastern style, surrounded by prophets and patriarchs of the Old testament. Christ takes Adam's hand and pulls him from the tomb into eternal life. Saint Elizabeth shown on the other half suffered martyrdom together with the bishop of Adrianopolis.

From the 1860s, Lukhutin produced papier-mâché lacquered Easter eggs. Towards the end of the century, these eggs showed the influence of religious icons due to the work of icon painters in Moscow. We assume that some of these painters worked for Lukhutin given the incorporation of stylistic details used at Palekh and the use of egg tempera instead of the traditional oil technique normally employed by the factory.

A similar egg is known to be in a private collection in Luxembourg.

Irina Ukhanova from the Hermitage confirms that while it unfortunate that these lacquer eggs were unsigned, this example is likely to be the work of either Semen Matveevich Matveev who worked at Lukhutin and was famed for his religious themed eggs or Ossip Semenovich Tshirikov, an icon master from Mstera. While it is not possible to document the Imperial presentation of this particular gift to Zinaida Yussupova, works by these masters were documented in the Winter and Annichkov Palaces, as well as one of the princely residences of the Yussupov family.

We would like to thank Dr Monika Kopplin from the Museum für Lackkunst in Münster, Germany for her assistance with this catalogue entry.

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A gold-mounted purpurine miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, partial maker's mark, early 20th century. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid body with chased neo-classical finial, on a gold suspension loop, marked on suspension loop, 56 standard; length: 1.3cm (1/2in). Sold for £2,500 (€3,015) at Bonhams, The Russian sale London, New Bond Street, 30 Nov 2011.

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A gold-mounted enamel miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, St, Petersburg, c. 1908. Photo Bonhams.

ovoid, the surface of translucent royal blue over hatched engine-turning, gold suspension loop, struck with KF in Cyrillic, 56 standard; height: 1.5cm (7/8in). Sold for £2,000 (€2,412) at Bonhams, The Russian sale London, New Bond Street, 30 Nov 2011.

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A shaded enamel and silver egg, Kurlyukov, Moscow, circa 1908-1917. Photo Bonhams.

the body enriched with vari-coloured foliate motifs and geometric forms dividing at the waist to reveal gilt interior, 84 standard; height: 7cm (2 1/2in). Sold for £6,000 (€7,236) at Bonhams, The Russian sale London, New Bond Street, 30 May 2012

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's New York, 6th December 1995, lot 379
Private collection, Europe.

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A silver-gilt and shaded enamel Easter egg, maker's mark rubbed, Moscow, 1899-1908. Photo Bonhams.

the body enriched with stylised foliate motifs dividing at pellet-bordered waist to reveal gilt interior, 84 standard; height: 7cm (2.5in). Sold for £4,750 (€5,729) at Bonhams, The Russian sale London, New Bond Street, 30 May 2012

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's New York, 6th December 1995, lot 377
Private collection, Europe.

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A jewelled gold-mounted enamel egg pendant, Fabergé, workmaster August Hollming, St. Petersburg, 1899-1908. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid surface translucent red guilloché over engine-turned sections alternating with bands of rose-cut diamonds, with gold suspension loop, 56 standard; height with loop: 2.4cm (15/16in). Sold for £7,500 (€9,045) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

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A gold and enamel miniature Easter egg with red cross, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914-1917, workmaster's mark 'AA'. Photo Bonhams.

body enamelled in white over engine-turned ground and centred with red cross in red enamel, on a suspension loop, 56 standard; length without loop: 1.5cm (5/8in). Estimate £5,000 - 7,000 (€6,000 - 8,400). Unsold at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

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An Imperial porcelain egg with the monogram of Grand Duchess Elizaveta, Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. Petersburg, period of Nicholas II. Photo Bonhams.

decorated with Cyrillic letter 'E' in green for Grand Duchess Elizaveta, surrounded with gilded laurel wreath under the Russian Imperial crown, apparently unmarked; height: 5.5cm (2 1/4in). Sold for £2,750 (€3,316) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

Grand Duchess Elizaveta (Ella) (1864-1918) was born Elizabeth, Princess of Hesse, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was the older sister of Alix, who later, after marrying heir to the Russian throne, became Empress Alexandra Fedorovna. In 1884 she married Grand Duke Sergei, son of Emperor Alexander III, who was assassinated by the revolutionaries in 1905. Following his murder, Grand Duchess Elizaveta completely devoted her life to the Russian Orthodox religion, nursing and charity. Tragically, she was imprisoned after the Revolution and executed on July 17, 1918 at Alapayevsk. Her remains were later transported and buried at a church at the foot of Mount Olives in Jerusalem. She was canonized as a martyr to Communist persecution by the church abroad in 1984 and by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1992.

For an identical example see: The Tsar's Cabinet. Two hundred years of Russian Decorative arts under the Romanovs, exhibition catalogue, Muscarelle Museum of Art, The College of William and Mary, August 26-October 8, 2006, cat. 103, illustrated on page 36.

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A porcelain Easter egg with an image of St. Olga, Imperial Porcelain factory, c. 1880-1890sPhoto Bonhams.

ovoid, the centre with an oval panel depicting St. Olga holding a cross within an elaborate gilded border, the reverse painted with a Greek cross, on dark blue ground, probably after a design by A.S. Kaminsky or O.S. Chirikov, apparently unmarked; height: 11cm (4 1/4in). Sold for £5,000 (€6,030) at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

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A jewelled gold and enamel miniature Easter egg, Russia, gold standard markPhoto Bonhams.

enamelled in translucent light peach colour over stippled ground, with a delicate branch set with diamonds and two red cabochon stones, on suspension loop, 56 standard; length without loop: 1.5cm (5/8in). Estimate £2,000 - 3,000 (€2,400 - 3,600). Unsold  at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

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A porcelain presentation egg with monogram of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. PetersburgPhoto Bonhams.

with gilded monogram of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna under the Russian Imperial crown, on purple ground; height: 6.5cm (2 1/2in). Estimate £2,000 - 4,000 (€2,400 - 4,800). Unsold  at Bonhams, The Russian Sale London, New Bond Street, 5 Jun 2013.

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An enamelled gold commemorative egg pendant, Fabergé, workmaster Alfred Thielemann, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the surface enamelled with Imperial eagle, the reverse with the crowned Imperial monogram of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna against red and white pennant of the Cavalry Guard Regiment, engraved 1906 below, 72 standard; height: 1.9cm (3/4in). Estimate £10,000 - 12,000 (€12,000 - 14,000). Unsold at Bonhams, THE RUSSIAN SALE, London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2013

PROVENANCE: Sotheby's New York, 6 December 1995, lot 443

A similar design for a pendant with a red and white pennant superimposed with the monogram MF crowned by the Imperial eagle was approved in 1906 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Dowager Empress as patron of the cavalry guard regiment. For an example realised by Thielemann for Fabergé, now in The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, (IO-3049), see an image reproduced in Habsburg and Lopato, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler, no. 134, p. 273.

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A jewelled enamel gold-mounted miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, Feodor Afanassiev, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid body divided into white champlevé strapwork sections framing gold scrollwork alternating with diamond-set fleurs-de-lis against red guilloché ground, 56 standard; height: 1.9cm (3/4in). Estimate £8,000 - 10,000 (€9,600 - 12,000). Unsold at Bonhams, THE RUSSIAN SALE, London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2013

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A gold-mounted enamel miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, Feodor Afanassiev, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the ovoid body enriched with playing card suits against yellow guilloché ground, 56 standard; height: 2cm (13/16in).. Estimate £7,000 - 9,000 (€8,400 - 11,000). Unsold at Bonhams, THE RUSSIAN SALE, London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2013

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A gold, enamel and hardstone gem-set miniature egg pendant, Fabergé, Feodor Afanassiev, St. Petersburg, circa 1900. Photo Bonhams.

the onyx body with applied straps of white champlevé enriched with greek-key pattern, set with garnet at junctures, 56 standard; height: 2cm (13/16in). Estimate £6,000 - 8,000 (€7,200 - 9,600). Unsold at Bonhams, THE RUSSIAN SALE, London, New Bond Street, 27 Nov 2013