Carl Faberge (born May 18, 1846 – died September 24, 1920) is a world famous Russian jeweler of German origin, a successful entrepreneur and a brilliant artist. For almost 50 years, Carl Faberge ran the family jewelry company and enjoyed the special patronage of the Romanov imperial family. The master”s biography is a worthy example of serving the art of jewelry, and his work is still admired by millions of people today.
Carl Faberge became famous all over the world for making Easter eggs for the Russian tsars, although his family company for many years has produced not only elite jewelry, but also products for middle-income buyers. At the end of his life, the brilliant master had to flee revolutionary Russia, and his company was nationalized by the Bolsheviks.
Carl Faberge was born on May 18, 1846 in St. Petersburg. His father, Gustav, was a Baltic German with French roots, and his mother was Danish. 4 years before the birth of their son, the parents moved from the Estonian city of Pärnu to the capital of the Russian Empire, where the head of the family founded a jewelry workshop.
After being educated at a private gymnasium, young Karl left Russia with his family. His father entrusted the management of the family company to business partners, and he himself decided to permanently settle in Germany. At the Dresden School of Art, Carl Faberge studied the theory of jewelry, and then went on a long trip to European countries.
For 8 years, he visited different cities in Germany, England and France, where he continued his studies with the best jewelers of the Old World. Karl decided to use the acquired knowledge for the benefit of the development of the family business and in 1872 he returned to St. Petersburg. Young Faberge took over the management of the jewelry company, got married and began to conquer the Russian capital.
Under his leadership, the family business quickly gained momentum. The company moved to a new spacious building, the number of employees increased, and Carl Faberge himself received the right to put a personal stamp on his products.
In 1882, at the All-Russian Exhibition in Moscow, a significant event took place in the fate of the master – he met the Russian autocrat. Alexander III was struck by the high quality of the works of the brilliant artist and by the highest order the Tsar bestowed upon Faberge the title of “Jeweler of His Imperial Majesty.”
Two years later, Alexander III ordered the first Easter egg from the master for his wife, which Empress Maria Feodorovna really liked. From that moment on, the duty of the court jeweler was the annual production of luxurious eggs for the greatest Christian holiday. Nicholas II, who ascended the throne in 1895, did not abolish this tradition. On the contrary, unlike his father, he ordered not one Easter surprise from the jeweler, but two (for his wife and the Dowager Empress).
It is the Easter eggs that have become the globally recognizable symbol of the jeweler”s genius. Due to the enormous popularity of these products, the master constantly received requests from the richest people in Russia and Europe to make the same things for them. It is reliably known that Carl Faberge completed 15 such orders, but among collectors there is a strong opinion that there were much more of them. Nowadays, these rumors are often used by scammers, passing off skilful forgeries for the work of a great master.
For decades, members of the imperial Russian family ordered jewelry from Faberge for their numerous European relatives. Thanks to this, the fame of the brilliant jeweler quickly spread outside Russia. Faberge brand stores were opened in Kiev, Odessa, London and Paris, the family company has become one of the leaders in the world jewelry market.
For almost half a century, Carl Faberge successfully managed the affairs of his company, but in October 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. The factories and shops of the jeweler were nationalized, and he himself miraculously escaped from inevitable death in a country devastated by revolutionary events. After several moves, Faberge settled in Wiesbaden, a resort town in southern Germany. The heart of the brilliant jeweler could not withstand the trials that fell on his fate, and on September 24, 1920, he died in Lausanne, where his relatives brought him for treatment.
Two sons of the master (Eugene and Nikolai) in the 1920s. emigrated to Paris, where they founded the company “Faberge and Co.” Subsequently, the rights to the world famous trademark have repeatedly passed from hand to hand, and today they are owned by South African businessman Brian Gilbertson.
The most famous masterpieces of Carl Faberge
Under the guidance of the genius master, the employees of his family firm, according to the most conservative estimates of specialists, until 1917 produced about 200, 000 different products. Among them there are many unique decorations, fine tableware and antiques. And yet, some of the most famous masterpieces of Carl Faberge include:
- Faberge Eggs (1885-1917) is a series of magnificent jewelry (71 items) made for Russian emperors and a small group of private individuals. To this day, 65 masterpieces have survived, which are currently in closed collections and national museums in different countries. Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks sold most of the unique precious works in the 1930s for a pittance as part of a program to find funds for the industrialization of the USSR”s national economy.
- The Gentlemen”s Set (1905) is an original still life made of precious materials. Despite its very ordinary appearance, the composition is a unique piece of jewelry art. The egg yolk is made of amber, the newspaper, flies and fish are made of silver, and the brick stand is made of jasper.
- Carl Faberge is undoubtedly one of the most famous jewelers in the history of world art. His unique contribution to Russian culture is comparable in its grandeur to the achievements of Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Repin. Fortunately, most of the unique masterpieces of the great master can still be seen by millions of people on our planet in museums and exhibitions.