Home to the one of the largest private collections of Fabergé pieces in North America, the Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery is adding another exquisite gem — a tiara owned by Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. This aquamarine and diamond diadem joins the collection, which already boasts two Fabergé tiaras, beginning November 15, 2019.
The tiara joining the collection at HMNS was created as a wedding gift from Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Frederick Francis IV to his bride Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland. The recommendation to commission Fabergé for the nuptial gift came from Francis IV’s mother and lifelong Fabergé admirer and collector Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia. Records indicate close collaboration between Eugène Fabergé (Carl Fabergé’s son) and the Grand Ducal Cabinet of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, but the exchange of drawings, edits and pricing delayed the piece’s arrival. The tiara was late for the actual wedding, so instead the bride wore a family crown originating from King George III and Queen Charlotte of England’s wedding. A month later, Princess Alexandra wore her Fabergé aquamarine tiara publicly for the first time to a court ball matched with a pink silk dress and pearl necklaces.
The tiara’s nine pear-shaped aquamarines and rose cut diamonds are incorporated into a design rife with romantic symbolism. The forget-me-not flowers tied with ribbon bows represent true and eternal love, while the arrows piercing the bows evoke Cupid, an icon of endearment, attraction and affection.
The McFerrins are local Houstonians and have been collecting Fabergé for about 15 years. While the first piece purchased was a ‘fauxberge,’ it catalyzed a passion for preserving and sharing the rich stories of these spectacular items. The newly acquired Grand Duchess tiara will be installed at the Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 15, 2019. It will be included with admission to the permanent exhibit halls.