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Fabergé: A Life of its Own – Award-Winning Film in Australia

1st Imperial Egg 2015

The Pearl Egg, Fabergé, 2015, the first Imperial-style egg created by Fabergé for almost 100 years.

We thank Alice Ilich, one of world’s leading authorities on Fabergé and Russian art, for facilitating presenting the story behind the making of the award-winning special event film Fabergé: A Life of its Own coming to Australian cinemas on August 15, 2015 about one of the most prestigious names in the history of art, design and craftsmanship, Fabergé.
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Carl Fabergé propelled the little known jeweller of ‘small items and spectacles’ into a world renowned and iconic brand. He was the descendant of an Huguenot family and founder of Fabergé. Through brilliant business acumen he turned the firm into one of the leading purveyors to the Russian Imperial Family.

The name Fabergé resonated across Europe and America as one of the greatest creative jewellers and goldsmiths.

His patient restoration of early gold and enamel items in the Hermitage for over a decade gave him exposure to some of the great masterpieces made by the leading goldsmiths and jewellers throughout the world. His creations ultimately won him the attention of the Imperial family.

The documentary, Fabergé A Life of Its Own tells the history of this iconic name.

Emerald Necklace 1000

Quartzite and diamond pendant, Fabergé, early C20th.

Carl Fabergé took over his father’s small business and developed it into one of the world’s most sophisticated business structures of the 19th Century.

It still holds enchantment in the very pronunciation of its name. However, to achieve that acme he masterminded a business structure that surpassed anything of the time.

Carl Fabergé housed his creative teams, their independent companies and employees under one roof. They produced the full gamut of jewellery, guillochage, enamelling, gold and silver-smithing. He provided with of the supporting staff amenities including their own house doctor and dining facilities.

This was the state of the art for Europe.

Photograph of Tsar Nicholas II, Fabergé frame, early C20th.

Photograph of Tsar Nicholas II, Fabergé frame, early C20th.

The big break came when they won the patronage of the Imperial family.

The movie focuses on the rise to prominence and success of the business globally as a result of this patronage and its connections to all the noble houses of Europe and England.

However, above all, its achievements were due to the firm’s ability to create an extraordinary array of stunning daily functional articles such as gold cigarette cases, bell-pushes, thermometers, enamelled photograph frames, jewellery and silver flatware at one end and the famed almost mythical Imperial Eggs at the other.

The story continues, paralleling Fabergé’s trajectory and its ultimate collapse with archival footage from glorious Imperial Russia to its utter demise at the end of Word War I and the Bolshevik Revolution.

Out of ashes of its destruction, the Fabergé name, as well as the items it created, arise as various entrepreneurs recognise the talismanic attraction these pieces hold, evoking romance, tragedy and above all the magnetic draw of the plight of Russia’s beguiling Imperial family.

It was indeed, the arrival on the scene, of yet another contemporary champion who saw the potential of the iconic brand and is taking it on a 21st Century journey. This led to the origin of film’s name, ‘Fabergé: A Life of Its Own’.

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Hermitage Masterpieces at the NGV – Janet Walker’s Review

Catherine by J A Houdon

Jean-Antoine HOUDON French 1741–1828 Catherine II 1773 marble 90.0 x 50.0 x 32.0 cm The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Transferred from the Stroganov Palace, Leningrad, 1928

Great, grand, glorious; all superlatives that are applicable to the current exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

Adding sublime to this list completes the description of the 500+ exquisite works on show by artists and artisans sourced from St Petersburg’s internationally renowned Hermitage Museum.

Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796), a minor German princess born Sophie Friederike Auguste of Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornborg, at age sixteen changed her name when she married Grand Duke Pyotr Fyodorovich, heir to the Russian throne.

The marriage was not a happy one, Catherine, intelligent and hardworking, Pyotr who later became Peter III, was not interested in Russian culture or government.

He spent most of his time engaged in military games with drinking companions; officers from Holstein, his former home.

Peter III ascended the Russian throne in 1762 and from the outset was unpopular; his inappropriate and determinedly odd behaviour discredited him in the eyes of both the common people and the aristocracy.

After less than six months on the throne he was overthrown, his wife, Catherine, a chief conspirator in his downfall.

Through skilfull networking Catherine had gathered a group of influential supporters which included the military and upon her husband’s dethroning was declared Empress of Russia.

Catherine the Great at NGV

Houdon’s Catherine the Great down under at the NGV, 2015

This was the beginning of a golden age for Russia.

Catherine the Great, characterized historically as an enlightened despot, believed in a form of absolute monarchy inspired by the Enlightenment; a period from the 1620s to the 1780s in which cultural and intellectual forces in Western Europe stressed reason, analysis, and individualism.

During this time the arts, sciences, and education were fostered and greatly encouraged by Catherine and most other rulers.

After putting the Russian economy and finances in order, Catherine the Great set about indulging her great passion – the collection of art: paintings, sculpture, drawings, porcelain, silver and objets d’art were sought out and assessed.

Catherine acquired works by contemporary artists, the old masters and with a particular interest in purchasing entire collections quickly gained a reputation as the foremost player in the fine art market of the time.

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Passionate Pursuits

Fashion Elixir Quick Snippets of Culture Carolyns Conversations

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