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Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise

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The New Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery Opens in April with a Little Surprise

The McFerrin Fabergé Collection will be presented in a new state-of-the-art gallery in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals. This new gallery is made possible by the generous underwriting of the Artie and Dorothy McFerrin Foundation.

The first installation in the gallery is the new special exhibition Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise. Visitors will experience the design artistry and craftsmanship of the Fabergé workmasters in an intimate setting.

Currently numbering over 600 pieces, the McFerrin Fabergé Collection is the largest private collection of Fabergé in the world—a treasure trove of objects reflecting the artistry of the Fabergé firm.

Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise explores the international politics, diplomacy, economics and innovation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning with the magnificent crown jewels of Catherine the Great, the development of Peter Carl Fabergé’s techniques and inspiration are explored.

One of the unique treasures displayed is a Fabergé piece inspired by a Scythian gold arm band dating to the 4th century BC. One of only four known today, Fabergé exhibited this piece at the 1882 Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow. In 1885 the House of Fabergé was named “Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown.”

There are over 70 eggs in the McFerrin Collection including two other Imperial-sized eggs made for special clients: the Nobel Ice Egg (c. 1913) created for Emanuel Nobel (1859-1932), and the Kelch Rocaille Egg created for Barbara Petrovna Kelch and presented by her husband Alexander Ferdinandovich Kelch in 1902.

Peter Carl Fabergé is known for equipping the Imperial Easter Eggs with a “surprise” inside for the recipient of the gift to find when he or she opens the egg. A surprise might be a realistic, jeweled figure, embellished picture frame with photo of a loved one, or perhaps the most cherished—a mechanical animal figurine.

The highlight of Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise is the surprise for the Diamond Trellis Egg, an Easter gift from Tsar Alexander III to Tsarina Maria Feodorovna in 1892. This Imperial Easter Egg will be exhibited with its original surprise, a small jeweled mechanical elephant. The reunion of the two pieces is made possible by a loan from the British Royal Collection on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. It is the first time the pieces have been seen together in over 80 years.

Fabergé: Royal Gifts featuring the Trellis Egg Surprise is organized by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It is the premiere exhibition for the Dorothy and Artie McFerrin Gallery in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals. The Trellis Egg surprise is generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Curator: Joel A. Bartsch

Native Texan and longtime Houstonian, Joel Bartsch was first hired as a security guard at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1984, and was appointed President & CEO of the Museum in 2004. His previous years of service at the Museum included his position as Curator of the Cullen….


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