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My French Life: Happy Birthday Fabergé

You might think that being a Russian, Faberge shouldn’t feature in my French blog life. But as I absolutely love his art I am working the links between the man born Peter Carl Fabergé (French name) and my adopted country France for all I am worth!

Peter Carl Fabergé was born May 30 1846 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. His father was Gustav Fabergé, himself a jeweller and his Danish mother was Charlotte Jungstedt. Gustav Fabergé’s paternal ancestors were from La Bouteille, Picardy (French connection No. 1) and being Huguenots they fled persecution in France ending up in Russia.

Fabergé learned the trade from his father and at just 16 years old was deemed competent to take over running his father’s business. At 18 years old he toured Europe and decided to enhance his skills attending schools and visiting galleries and museums in Germany, France and the UK. He returned to Russia, settled down, got married, worked at the jewellery business and built up a good reputation.

Fabergé teamed up with his brother Agathon Fabergé and together they started to create wonderful pieces – from cigarette boxes to bell pushes. They caught the eye of the Tsar who showered them with praise and commissioned a jewelled egg for his wife. The resulting jewel encrusted exquisite piece of artwork known as the Hen Egg so impressed the Tsar it became a tradition for Fabergé to be commissioned to make eggs every Easter for the Russian royal family. He made 50 in total of which 42 remain known.

In 1900, Carl Fabergé represented Russia at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris (French connection No. 2). He was awarded the title Knight of the Legion D’honneur in recognition of his fabulous work (Connection No. 3).

Sadly for Fabergé – his successful and prosperous business was nationalised by the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution and he was forced with his family to flee Russia. He died in 1920 in Germany – his family claimed of a broken heart.

His legacy remains through his most famous contribution. The glorious Fabergé eggs are today worth fortunes and his admirers are legion, including Google who on the anniversary of his birthday in May 30 2012 honoured him with screen doodles of eggs.

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