SHOWCASE 20. PANAGIA OF THE 18TH - 19TH CENTURIES. PRODUCTION OF THE HOUSE OF FABERGE

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Showcase 20. Panagia of the 18th - 19th centuries

On display in Showcase 20 is both a collection Panagia of the 18th - 19th centuries and items made by The House of Fabergé.

Panagia is a small pectoral icon worn by archbishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. Worn on a chain over other vestments, it has been used since the ancient times. In the 15th-16th centuries, the so-called 'travelling' Panagia consisted of two halves, pivotally connected and decorated with scenes of Our Lady of the Sign, the Holy Trinity, Crucifixion and Ascension. At the close of the 16th century, these small icons were decorated with enamels, pearls and precious stones. By the 18th century, the 'presentation' (or granted) Panagia with miniature portraits of the tsars on the reverse side had been used as secular jewellery.

The collection reveals not only the history of the jewellery-making in Russia over two centuries but also the changing fashion for precious stones. The 18th century was fond of vivid, rich, colourful emeralds, sapphires, rubies. In the 19th century, stones of delicate light colours were in demand. Glittering, well-cut diamonds were executed in keeping with the austere forms of classicism.

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In the 18th century, the production of gold and silver articles in Moscow and Saint Petersburg became concentrated in large workshops, firms and factories, equipped with new machinery. The largest jewellery firm in Russia, known all over the world, was the House of Fabergé, founded in 1842 in Saint Petersburg by Gustav Fabergé. The firm employed over 500 craftsmen and produced a significant number of jewellery articles, such as snuff-boxes, powder-cases, perfume stands, lorgnettes and earrings, revealing outstanding technical skills and artistic originality. Carl Fabergé invented souvenirs of various materials in the form of an Easter egg with a surprise inside, which became immensely popular. He engaged talented artists in his workshop; the most renowned one was M. Perkhin, a self-taught jeweller. Almost all the Fabergé Easter presents were made at the Perkin's workshop.

Showcase 20. Production of The House of Fabergé

Materials used by Fabergé included metals—silver, gold, copper, nickel, palladium—that were combined in variable proportions to produce different colours. The House of Fabergé was famous for its enamels with their translucent colours and impressive technique of using up to 500 shades in the enamel palette. Another technique used by Fabergé included guilloche, an engraving technique in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern or design is mechanically etched into an underlying material with very fine details. Fabergé used natural stones i.e. jasper, bowenite, rhodonite, rock crystal, agate, aventurine quartz, lapis lazuli and jade. Precious stones (sapphires, rubies and emeralds) were used only for decoration and played a role of final decorative accents. The ability to achieve perfection of forms not only in the quality of precious materials is typical of the work by the Fabergé firm's craftsmen. 

Its position as the 'purveyor to the Court' gave an austere elite quality to the firm's works of art that formed the taste of the Russian jewellers and their customers as well. The Moscow Kremlin Museums house the world’s largest collection in the of Easter eggs executed by the House of Fabergé.

The Memory of Azov Cruiser Easter EggThe Trans-Siberian Express Easter EggCigarette Case