Between 1885 and 1916, Carl Fabergé made fifty jewelled eggs – Easter presents from Russia’s last two emperors to their wives. Since the brutal murder of the last tsar and his family in a Siberian basement, these eggs 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.
After going missing in the Revolution, most of the eggs re-emerged in the storerooms of the Kremlin, where they were immediately identified as a source of much-needed foreign exchange. Their subsequent history holds up a mirror to the twentieth century and encompasses Bolsheviks and entrepreneurs, tycoons and heiresses, con-men and queens. Eggs have been sold and smuggled, stolen and forged.
Now, as they return to Russia, their history – like that of Russia itself – seems to have come full circle. Then there are the eight eggs which remain missing. What prospect is there that they will ever emerge, and if they do, will anyone believe that they are genuine?
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 eggs today and their owners, and with archival material showing some of the missing eggs.
Toby is an experienced lecturer and public speaker who has been accredited by The Arts Society since 2012. 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.
Toby has written three narrative histories: Stradivarius – Five Violins, One Cello and a Genius; Faberge’s Eggs; and Faber & Faber – The Untold Story, as well as a novel, Close to the Edge. Of these, only the obvious one is published by the family firm.
On this occasion it will be for members only. Membership of the Arts Society Chiswick includes 10 expert lectures and many other activities. For more information see https://theartssocietychiswick.org.uk/
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