Fabergé Heart Locket Pendant

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Gold and pink guilloché enamel heart locket …

Antique Russian Enamel Bowls

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Two matching gilded silver and transparent enamel bowls.

Khlebnikov, Russian, ca. 1900.
Diameter: 4 1/4 in.
Height: 2 1/4 in.

aerial view of antique Russian enamel bowls by Khlebnikovadditional view of antique Russian enamel bowls by Khlebnikovone detail view of antique Russian enamel bowls by Khlebnikovanother detail view of antique Russian enamel bowls by Khlebnikov

Fabergé Heart Locket Pendant

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Gold and pink guilloché enamel heart locket pendant, set with a small pearl. Inscribed on the reverse: 2 Nov. 1901 above monogram M.

Fabergé, Moscow, ca. 1900.
Length: 1 in. incl. bail

Provenance:

Albert and Nora McGill

The McGill family were prominent British residents of Moscow in the 19th century. They played a significant role in the founding of Russia’s cotton mill industry and formed close family ties with other British families living in Moscow, such as the Shanks, and the Bowes, as well as the Russian aristocracy. Albert McGill’s cousin, Emma Billet, married Henry ‘Allan’ Talbot Bowe, who was closely connected with Fabergé. Born in South Africa and educated in England, Allan moved to Moscow to work for his cousin at the retailer Magasin Anglais. He worked there until 1886, when he met Carl Fabergé by chance while traveling by train from Russia to Paris. Fabergé recognized Allan’s potential, and together they opened Fabergé’s Moscow branch in 1887. Later, in 1903, the demand for Fabergé in England led him and his brother Arthur to open a London branch, which they operated until 1906 when management transferred to Fabergé’s son, Nicholas, and Henry Charles Bainbridge.

back view, Faberge enamel and pearl heart locket pendant open view, Faberge enamel and pearl heart locket pendant marks, Faberge enamel and pearl heart locket pendant

Fabergé Gold and Ruby Mini Egg Pendant

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Miniature gold Easter egg pendant set with cabochon ruby.

Fabergé, Moscow, ca. 1910.
Length: 3/4 in. incl. bail

Provenance: Albert and Nora McGill

The McGill family were prominent British residents of Moscow in the 19th century. They played a significant role in the founding of Russia’s cotton mill industry and formed close family ties with other British families living in Moscow, such as the Shanks, and the Bowes, as well as the Russian aristocracy. Albert McGill’s cousin, Emma Billet, married Henry ‘Allan’ Talbot Bowe, who was closely connected with Fabergé. Born in South Africa and educated in England, Allan moved to Moscow to work for his cousin at the retailer Magasin Anglais. He worked there until 1886, when he met Carl Fabergé by chance while traveling by train from Russia to Paris. Fabergé recognized Allan’s potential, and together they opened Fabergé’s Moscow branch in 1887. Later, in 1903, the demand for Fabergé in England led him and his brother Arthur to open a London branch, which they operated until 1906 when management transferred to Fabergé’s son, Nicholas, and Henry Charles Bainbridge.

other view, Faberge gold and ruby mini egg pendant detail view, Faberge gold and ruby mini egg pendant

Fabergé Amethyst Brooches

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Two cushion-cut amethyst brooches, each encircled with rose cut diamonds and a white enamel border, set in silver and gold.

Fabergé, Moscow, ca. 1900.
Diameter: 3/4 inches

Provenance: Albert and Nora McGill

The McGill family were prominent British residents of Moscow in the 19th century. They played a significant role in the founding of Russia’s cotton mill industry and formed close family ties with other British families living in Moscow, such as the Shanks, and the Bowes, as well as the Russian aristocracy. Albert McGill’s cousin, Emma Billet, married Henry ‘Allan’ Talbot Bowe, who was closely connected with Fabergé. Born in South Africa and educated in England, Allan moved to Moscow to work for his cousin at the retailer Magasin Anglais. He worked there until 1886, when he met Carl Fabergé by chance while traveling by train from Russia to Paris. Fabergé recognized Allan’s potential, and together they opened Fabergé’s Moscow branch in 1887. Later, in 1903, the demand for Fabergé in England led him and his brother Arthur to open a London branch, which they operated until 1906 when management transferred to Fabergé’s son, Nicholas, and Henry Charles Bainbridge.

other view, pair of amethyst and diamond brooches by Faberge

Fabergé Bowenite Pen Tray

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Carved bowenite pen tray set in gold decorated in red and white enamel.
By Fabergé, workmaster M. Perchin, ca. 1900.
Length 6 ½ inches.

A von Solodkoff, Masterpieces from the House of Fabergé, 1984, page 6.

side view, Faberge bowenite pen traytop view, Faberge bowenite pen tray

Antique Old Mine Diamond Drop Earrings

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Pair of old mine pavé diamond Georgian drop earrings with bow accent, set in silver.

English, ca. 1780.
Length: 2 1/16 inches

$40,000

These earrings are featured in our Georgian & Georgian Revival earrings video on our videos age.

Model wearing Antique Old Mine Diamond Drop EarringsAntique Old Mine Diamond Drop EarringsAntique Old Mine Diamond Drop Earrings

Antique Diamond Bow Brooch by Janesich

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Diamond bow brooch set in platinum.

Janesich, French, ca. 1900.
Length: 3 3/4 in.

$28,000

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

back view, Diamond Bow Brooch by Janesichother view, Diamond Bow Brooch by Janesich

Fabergé Travelling Stamp Moistener

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Gold-mounted and carved bowenite travelling stamp moistener with vari-colored gold swags, garlands, and rubies. The lid screws into the base for security.

Fabergé, workmaster M. Perchin. St. Petersburg, ca. 1895.
Height: 2 1/2 inches
Provenance: Lansdell K. Christie, New York, an American businessman and art collector.

Antique Natural Pearl and Diamond Bow Bracelet

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Antique bracelet featuring alternating rows of natural pearls and brilliant-cut diamonds in square platinum mounts, connected by a diamond and pearl bow clasp.

American, ca. 1920
Length: 7 1/4 in.

$38,000

open view, Antique Natural Pearl and Diamond Bow Braceletother view, Antique Natural Pearl and Diamond Bow Braceletdetail view, Antique Natural Pearl and Diamond Bow Bracelet

Hidden Histories: The Man Behind the Curtain – Theater Designer Léon Bakst

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Curtain design for the ballet Istar Leon Bakst
Design for a theatre curtain for the ballet Istar circa. 1924
Watercolor on paper heightened with gold
13-1/4 x 26-1/4 in.
Signed, lower right: Bakst

It seems fitting to conclude this Hidden Histories series with a curtain call. Pictured above is a curtain design for the Ballets Russes by Léon Bakst (1866-1924).

Leon Bakst self portrait 1893

Self portrait, oil on cardboard 1893, The State Russian Museum, Wikimedia Commons

The world-renowned artist and theater designer was born Lev Samoilovich Rozenberg in Grodno, Russia (now Hrodna, Belarus) into a lower middle-class Jewish family. His talent emerged early and at age twelve he won a prize in an art contest, which alarmed his parents. Not wishing to fan the artistic flame, they contacted the famous Russian sculptor Mark Antokolsky, hoping he would discourage Bakst’s artistic pursuits. He did nothing of the sort. Instead, convinced of Bakst’s potential, he praised the young artist.

Perhaps Antokolsky saw himself in the young boy, for, in many ways, the two artists had parallel lives. As emerging Jewish artists, they faced similar hurdles on their paths to artistic greatness. Both were part of a Jewish Renaissance in Russia, when Jews began increasingly embracing secular culture and assimilating into modern life. It has been said that Jewish artists in Russia had two options – to either hide or embrace their heritage. As discussed in a previous blog post, Antokolsky managed to straddle both worlds. Bakst, however, as some would argue, appears indifferent to his Jewish roots.

Russian art scholar John Milner said of Bakst’s Jewish identity:

“His Jewishness gave him a skepticism. He didn’t use any Byzantium or Christian themes and nor was he interested in icon painting, which had recently been rediscovered in Russia, because it was Christian oriented. He had a sense of separateness as he did not totally identify with Russian culture.”

Bakst 1916

Bakst in 1916, Wikimedia Commons

Christian art and Bakst’s sense of separateness collided during his enrollment at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1886, his third year of study, he submitted a Pieta for a competition and scandalously contemporized the subjects by depicting Mary and the disciples as impoverished Jews. He was consequently dismissed from the Academy.

Later, at the time of his exhibition in 1889, he changed his name to a variation of Baxter, his maternal grandmother’s name. It has been suggested that Bakst changed his name to sound less Jewish, making it easier to assimilate and rise socially.

Bakst clearly had a conflicted Jewish identity. Upon marrying a Lutheran woman in 1903, he converted. After his divorce in 1910 he returned to Judaism. This renewal of faith later prompted the addition of a Star of David into his personal letterhead, a change he made in the 1920s.

Regardless of his feelings towards his heritage, Bakst successfully made a name for himself through his art. Famed and lauded for his designs for the internationally renowned Ballets Russes, Bakst revolutionized theater design, elevating it to its own art form. Traditionally, theater design color palettes consisted of pale, pastel hues, but Bakst was not one for tradition.

Curtain design detail Leon Bakst

Detail of curtain design

Bakst received great praise for his use of color in costume design by selecting dizzying hues matching the movement of the dancers. This sense of movement is clearly prevalent throughout his theatrical portfolio, exemplified in this curtain design for the 1924 ballet Istar. Theatrical curtains are the audience’s first introduction to a production, and this example must have created quite a bit of excitement and anticipation for the performance.

The shades of green, blue, and pink may seem like a strange combination, yet together they form a vibrant backdrop. The curtain design captures the vibrancy and movement of the stage, with swirls of color and folds of fabric ready to billow and sway out of the frame. The design is imbued with an Orientalist flavor. European artists took inspiration from the East for centuries, a trend that reached a new height in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. For a Russian artist like Bakst, native to a country which was long conflicted regarding its identity placed between the East and West, Orientalism must have been particularly appealing. Bakst described Orientalism as “the Persian and Russian manner mingled.” The delicate, naturalistic drawings of pomegranates, flowers and white peacocks heightened with gold are drawn in a simplified manner commonly associated with woodblock printing. These motifs are contrasted against a rich cobalt blue ground. The artist’s signature device of rhythmic movement is evidenced in the parting of the curtains on either side to reveal two different exotic patterns at the base, and in the veils, also heightened with gold, billowing from behind the curtain. The majestic birds may have been inspired by the white peacocks which roamed the garden of the Marchesa Casati, known for favoring a parasol of peacock feathers, whom Bakst met on an early visit to Venice with Diaghilev and Nijinsky.

Bakst treated his set and costume drawings like works of art to be placed on a wall. Here at A La Vieille Russie we present such an artwork housed in the plain, wooden frame original to the workshop.  The backing board is stamped with C. [?]asamatt/Depositeur Excluse des oeuvres de Leon BAKST/112 Bd Malesherbes, which may have been stamped when the contents of the artist’s studio were sold. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has a black and white preparatory drawing for the Istar theater curtain in their permanent collection.

Bakst collaborated with the famous Russian ballerina and patron, Ida Rubinstein, to bring Istar to the Paris Opera, where it had its premier on July 10, 1924. It was among his greatest works and his last to reach the stage. By the time that final curtain fell, Bakst accomplished international renown as an innovative theater designer and artist of great talent.

References:

Abrams, Melanie. “The Designer of a Century.” The Jewish Chronicle Online. September 21, 2010.

Bowlt, John E. “Leon Bakst.” The YIVO Encyclopedia for Jews in Eastern Europe.  (accessed April 11, 2016).

Goodman, Susan Tumarkin, ed. Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change 1890-1990. Prestel-Verlag/Jewish Museum, 1995.

Kuiper, Kathleen. “Leon Bakst.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. (accessed April 11, 2016)

Wecker, Menachem. “The Jewish Designer Who Taught Marc Chagall.” The Jewish Daily Forward. June 18, 2013.

Hidden Histories: Fabergé Silversmith Julius Rappoport

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This next installment of “Hidden Histories” examines the celebrated Fabergé silversmith Julius Rappoport (1851-1917).

He was born Born Isaac Ambramovich Rappoport in the Datnovskii Jewish community in Kovno, Lithuania. In 1880 he began apprenticing in Berlin under the silversmith Scheff, and by 1884 he became a master and returned to St. Petersburg where he became Fabergé’s head silversmith. His workshop contributed to a range of objects, from animal sculptures to large dinner services. In the early 1890s he converted to Lutheranism and changed his name to Julius. Following his retirement in the early 1900s he left the workshop and its equipment to his workmen which became the First St. Petersburg Silver Artel.

Beyond these few facts we know little, but Rappoport’s material legacy compensates for his biographical obscurity. In fact, Rappoport’s silver is so revered that connoisseurs of Fabergé’s oeuvre often comment that his silver production was among the finest pieces produced by the Fabergé workshop. Below are just a few examples:

Fabergé Silver Candelabra

Pair of Rococo bowenite and silver two-light candelabra.

Rappoport silver animals

Three silver monkey table lighters: Seated monkey, crouching gorilla, and seated baboon.

Fabergé Silver Elephant Stamp Moistener

Silver stamp moistener in the form of an elephant standing on its head and forelegs, the tail serving as the moistener.

Rappoport elephant

Silver-mounted sandstone elephant-form match holder, with garnet eyes.

Rappoport silver and bowenite lamp

Silver and bowenite table lamp.