Rare Faberge egg to go on show at Surrey National Trust house

The St Petersburg-born jeweller is famous for creating 50 eggs for the Russian Imperial family.

25 April 2022

An ornamental egg made by one of the world’s most renowned jewellers has gone on display at a National Trust house.

The exhibition at Polesden Lacey, Surrey – the former country retreat of society hostess and collector Margaret Greville, will unveil more than 100 objects – some going on display for the first time.

Among the five pieces designed by Peter Carl Faberge is a Faberge egg, which features a rose-cut diamond clasp fashioned in the shape of a snowflake.

Mrs Greville by Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran (National Trust)

The St Petersburg-born jeweller is famous for creating 50 eggs for the Russian Imperial family – along with a number of private clients – from 1885 until Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate in 1917.

One of the eggs was estimated to have been auctioned off for up to £20 million in 2014.

Research for the exhibition revealed that Faberge, who set up a shop in London in 1903, was also responsible for a jasper study of an owl housed at Polesden Lacey.

The Trust’s Faberge expert, John Benjamin, said the collection provided a “lightning conductor to an era now long gone, when discerning customers such as Mrs Greville had ample means and opportunity to acquire beautiful objets de fantaisie”.

Objects with royal links will also be on display ahead of the Platinum Jubilee this year, including a snuff box presented to Mrs Greville by Edward VII and a ruby and diamond brooch worn to his coronation.

The former monarch was guest of honour at Mrs Greville’s first house party in 1909 and reportedly said that her “gift for hospitality” amounted to a “positive genius”.

Jonathan Marsh, Polesden Lacey’s house manager, said: “Margaret Greville’s guests here included royalty, politicians, international heads of state and celebrities.

“Her collection of art and objects is a reflection of her prestige and prominence and we’re excited to be able to tell that story in this major exhibition.”

Ceramics on show include a pair of pottery horse heads from early Imperial China, dated from between the third and seventh centuries, and porcelain by Meissen.

The picture collection ranges from rare medieval works to masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age, including a self-portrait by Frans van Mieris.

Other paintings on show include a portrait of a young Mary Queen of Scots by Henry Bone, the enamellist to George III, George IV and William IV.

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