• Sale 1157

    Important Works of Art by Carl Faberge from the Forbes

    19 April 2002, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 139

    A UNIQUE AND LARGE SILVER, SILVER-GILT AND ENAMEL PRESENTATION MODEL OF A PADDLE STEAMER PRESENTED TO THE TSAREVICH ALEKSEI IN 1913 FOR THE TERCENTENARY OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY

    MARKED FABERGÉ AND WITH THE WORKMASTER'S MARK OF HENRIK WIGSTRÖM, ST. PETERSBURG, 1908-1917

    Price Realised  

    A UNIQUE AND LARGE SILVER, SILVER-GILT AND ENAMEL PRESENTATION MODEL OF A PADDLE STEAMER PRESENTED TO THE TSAREVICH ALEKSEI IN 1913 FOR THE TERCENTENARY OF THE ROMANOV DYNASTY
    marked Fabergé and with the workmaster's mark of Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, 1908-1917
    Comprised of two tiers of cabins with colored glass window panels, the upper deck complete with silver tables, stools and maritime equipment such as lifeboats and life preservers, the arched blue enamel panel above the wheel with the Imperial double-headed eagle, the date '1913' and inscribed in Cyrillic, 'To the Heir, the Tsarevich Aleksei Nicolaevich from the Volga Shipbuilders', with an oxydized silver chimney and a secret compartment in the lower part of the vessel, mounted on a later silver-gilt base, fully marked
    28½in. (72.5cm.) long


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    To commemorate the tercentenary of the Romanov Dynasty in 1913, the Imperial family traveled to towns that were historically associated with the first Romanov Tsar and the establishment of the Russian State. At each scheduled stop, officials and huge crowds gathered to greet the exalted visitors. In the town of Nizhnii-Novgorod, located at the confluence of the Oka and Volga rivers, the shipbuilders working in this important industrial region presented this silver model of a paddle steamer by Fabergé to nine-year-old Tsarevich Aleksei.
    "It was already after six in the evening... Their Majesties... proceeded to the steamboat pier where all the shipowners of the Volga, Oka, and Kama rivers had assembled together with their families and had the pleasure of presenting the bread and salt to the Emperor, a silver model of a steamboat to the Tsarevich, and luxuriant bouquets to the Empress and the Grand Duchesses", see: Bogdanovich, E. Pilgramige of the Tsar, St. Petersburg, 1913, pp. 40-41

    The Emperor Nicholas II mentioned in his diary on May 17th 1913, the above stop, "We arrived in Nizhnii-Novgorod at 10am... At 6pm a large delegation of Volga shipbuilders presented us with several lovely things."

    The silver paddle steamer also appears under no. 122 amongst the gifts presented to the Imperial family and listed in the inventory established by the Office of the Imperial Court Ministry.

    This large silver model of a paddle steamer was probably the largest presentation piece given to the Tsarevich Aleksei and it is without a doubt one of the Fabergé firm's tours de force.

    The most minute details have been looked after by the Fabergé workmaster Henrik Wigström and his assistants; from the shape of the life boats hanging on each side, to the shape of the oxydized silver chimney.

    The present model is also part of the very few articulated miniature replicas made by Fabergé which also comprise the Imperial coach, (the surprise of the 1897 Coronation Imperial Easter egg), the Imperial train, (the surprise of the 1900 Transiberian Imperial Easter egg and the large silver model of a motorcar (see lot 117).

    Most of all, the paddle steamer is one of the very few Fabergé creations which are musical. The model was fitted with two music movements playing the Imperial Russian national anthem "Kol Slaven" and "Sailing Down the Volga" (since removed for display purposes, but available with the present lot). The only major Fabergé piece with such music movement is the 1906 Moscow Kremlin Imperial Easter egg which plays the Russian traditional hymn "Izhe Kheruvimy"

    This model of a paddle steamer was purchased by Armand and Victor Hammer in the 1920's when they were living in Russia.
    In the mid-thirties, it was sold to Mr. Charles Ward, President of Brown and Bigelow, who replaced the battery lighting system with a transformer and mounted the piece and presented it later to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    "The new owner, beholden to FDR, searched for a suitable gift he might send him. He found it at the Hammer Galleries, a twenty-four inch gold, platinum, and silver model of a Volga Steamboat created in 1913 by the incomparable court jeweler, Karl Fabergé, as a present to the Czarevich Alexis on the occassion of the three hundredth anniversary of the Romanoff dynasty. The Hammers had bought it from a Moscow commission store in the late 1920's and it reached America with the rest of the ornaments of the Brown House. Victor priced it at $25,000, one-fourth of what he estimated it cost Nicholas II. Even at that reduced rate, he assured the purchaser that it was "the most expensive toy in the world"..." ...boat enthusiast Franklin Roosevelt was delighted to add it to his collection of models." Considine, B. The Remarkable Life of Dr. Armand Hammer, New York, 1973, p. 147

    Roosevelt kept the boat in "Top Cottage", a retreat on the Hyde Park grounds and at his death, it passed to his son Elliot.

    Inside, there is a battery compartment to light the windows throughout the ship as well as space for the two music boxes. For display purposes, the above and the electrical system have been removed, but is sold with the present lot with the electrical map and detailed photographs showing the inside electrical display.

    We are most grateful to Valentin Skurlov for his research in the Russian archives for this lot.

    Provenance

    Presented by the Volga shipbuilders on May 17th 1913 in Nizhnii-Novgorod to the Tsarevich Aleksei Acquired by Armand Hammer in the Soviet Union in the mid 1920's Hammer Galleries, New York
    Charles Ward
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Elliot Roosevelt
    Charles Ward, 1951
    Mr. Wally Findlay
    Brandeis University
    Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, 20 May 1979, lot 262, bought by A La Vieille Russie as agent


    Literature

    Snowman, K. A. The Art of Carl Fabergé, London, 1953/55, p. 149, ill. pl. no. 254
    Snowman, K.A. The Art of Carl Fabergé, London, 1962/64/68/74, pp. 164-65, ill. pl. no. 284
    Considine, B. The Remarkable Life of Dr. Armand Hammer, New York, 1973, p. 147 von Habsburg, G. "Carl Fabergé: Die glanzvolle Welt eines Koniglichen Juweliers", Du: Europaische Kuntszeitschrift, December 1977, p. 87, ill.
    Waterfield, H. & Forbes, C. Fabergé Imperial Eggs and Other Fantasies, New York, 1978, no. 57, pp. 45, 132, 133, 135, ill. pp. 46-47
    Amaya, M. "The Forbes Magazine Collection", Connoisseur, April 1980, p. 266, ill. p. 268
    Williams, R. Russian Art and American Money, Cambridge, 1980, p. 224 Hess, A. "Forbes' Fabulous Fabergé", Saturday Review, August 1980, p. 44, ill. p. 46
    von Solodkoff, A. Masterpieces from the House of Fabergé, New York, 1984, p. 164, ill.
    Kelly, M. Highlites from The Forbes Magazine Collection, New York, 1985, p. 13, ill. p. 12
    von Habsburg, G. Fabergé, New York, 1987, p. 102
    Forbes, C. & Tromeur-Brenner, R. Fabergé, The Forbes Collection, New York, 1999, p. 250, ill. p. 251


    Exhibited

    Chicago, Marshall Field and Co. A Century of Progress, 1933-34