Fabergé: Royal Gifts & the 1892 Imperial Trellis Egg Landmark Discovery Solves 100 Year Old Mystery

By: Apr. 06, 2017
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An exclusive loan arrangement between the Royal Collection of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and the Houston Museum of Natural Science will be the centerpiece of the new Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery housed in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals when it opens April 10th.

The first installation in the gallery is the new special exhibition Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise, which explores the innovation and enterprising spirit of Carl Fabergé that inspired him to create an array of functional and commemorative items as well as exquisite pieces of jewelry. The highlight of the show is the Imperial Diamond Trellis Egg on display with its original surprise-a small jeweled mechanical elephant -generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection. It is the first time the pieces have been seen together in over a century. Hear the tale behind the discovery of the elephant in a cabinet at Buckingham Palace from Senior Curator of the Royal Collection Trust, Caroline de Guitaut.

Caroline de Guitaut, Senior Curator, Royal Collection Trust: "On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen we are delighted to be able to bring this beautiful work of art from the Royal Collection to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and to enable the original Elephant 'surprise' to be shown alongside the Fabergé Diamond Trellis Egg. The exhibition marks the first time these two pieces have been reunited since 1922, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy these magnificent works."

The Diamond Trellis Egg & Elephant Automaton "Surprise"

The Diamond Trellis Egg is the third Imperial Easter Egg created by Fabergé. It was a gift from Tsar Alexander III to Tsarina Maria Feodorovna on Easter, 1892. The egg was originally fitted with a padded interior featuring a compartment for the "Surprise" elephant.

The beautiful work of art includes an interior mechanism, that when wound with the key, allows the elephant to walk and move its head. Fabergé produced a number of mechanical surprises to be included inside his Imperial Easter Eggs; however, this was the first.

The elephant, a symbol of the Danish Royal House and the ancient Order of the Elephant, Denmark's highest chivalric order, was also a symbol of the Russian Imperial Family. The imagery had become particularly important after Tsar Alexander III married Princess Dagmar of Denmark, later Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

The McFerrin Collection

There have been many Fabergé exhibitions around the world over the last several decades. However, very few have showcased some of the rarest objects of luxury by Carl Fabergé and his firm. Currently numbering over 600 pieces, the McFerrin Collection has become one of the world's most important private collections of Fabergé.

Perhaps best known for Imperial Easter Eggs created for the Russian Royal family, the House of Fabergé also fashioned jewelry and luxurious gifts for many ruling families of Europe, as well as other wealthy patrons. See exquisite objects produced by the Fabergé workshop at its peak, including personal gifts to the Tsar and Tsarina, an extravagant tiara, the magnificent "Fire Screen" picture frame and the famed "Nobel Ice Egg," one of the few "Imperial-styled" eggs in private hands. From elegantly simple to breathtakingly ornate, the jewelry, clocks, picture frames, boxes and eggs in this collection have been thoughtfully selected to exemplify extraordinary materials and workmanship.

Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise will be on display April 10 through April 18, 2018. The special exhibition is included in the permanent exhibit hall admission. For ticket prices or more information visit our website at www.hmns.org or call (713) 639-4629.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science-one of the nation's most heavily attended museums-is a centerpiece of the Houston Museum District. With four floors of permanent exhibit halls, and the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, Burke Baker Planetarium and George Observatory and as host to world-class and ever-changing touring exhibitions, the Museum has something to delight every age group. With such diverse and extraordinary offerings, a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, located at One Hermann Circle Drive in the heart of the Museum District, is always an adventure.