Peter Carl Fabergé the iconic Russian jeweller famous for creating bejewelled eggs some which sell for over a million pounds each has been honoured on his 166th birthday with a Google doodle. The California based search engine has fashioned their logo with his trademark Easter eggs.
He was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia to the Baltic German jeweller Gustav Fabergé and his Danish wife Charlotte Jungstedt. Gustav Fabergé’s paternal ancestors were Huguenots, originally from La Bouteille, Picardy, who fled from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, first to Germany near Berlin, then in 1800 to the Baltic province of Livonia, then part of Russia.
Initially educated in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1860 Gustav Fabergé, together with his wife and children retired to Dresden, leaving the business in the hands of capable and trusted managers. Peter Carl possibly undertook a course at the Dresden Arts and Crafts School. Two years later, Agathon, the Fabergé’s second son was born.
In 1864, Peter Carl embarked upon a Grand Tour of Europe. He received tuition from respected goldsmiths in Germany, France and England, attended a course at Schloss’s Commercial College in Paris, and viewed the objects in the galleries of Europe’s leading museums.
His travel and study continued until 1872, when at the age of 26 he returned to St. Petersburg and married Augusta Julia Jacobs. For the following 10 years, his father’s trusted workmaster Hiskias Pendin acted as his mentor and tutor. The company was also involved with cataloguing, repairing, and restoring objects in the Hermitage during the 1870s. In 1881 the business moved to larger street-level premises at 16/18 Bolshaya Morskaya.
The Tsar also commissioned the company to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria. The Tsar placed an order for another egg the following year. However, from 1887, Carl Fabergé was apparently given complete freedom with regard to design, which then become more and more elaborate. According to the Fabergé Family tradition, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take: the only stipulation was that each one should contain a surprise. The next Tsar, Nicholas II, ordered two eggs each year, one for his mother and one for his own wife, Alexandra. The tradition continued until the October Revolution.
Although the House of Fabergé is famed for its Imperial Easter eggs, it made many more objects ranging from silver tableware to fine jewelry. Fabergé’s company became the largest jewellery business in Russia. In addition to its Saint Petersburg head quarters, there were branches in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London. It produced some 150,000 to 200,000 objects from 1882 until 1917.
In 1900, his work represented Russia at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. As Carl Fabergé was a member of the Jury, the House of Fabergé therefore exhibited hors concours (without competing). Nevertheless, the House was awarded a gold medal and the city’s jewellers recognised Carl Fabergé as maître. Additionally, Carl Fabergé was decorated with the most prestigious of French awards – he was appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honour. Two of Carl’s sons and his Head Workmaster were also honored. Commercially, the exposition was a great success and the firm acquired a great many orders and clients. He died on September 24, 1920 at the age of 74.