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    Sale 1989

    Russian Art

    18 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 303

    An Unusually Large Jeweled Carved Nephrite Model of an Elephant


    Price Realised  


    An Unusually Large Jeweled Carved Nephrite Model of an Elephant
    By Fabergé, circa 1900
    Realistically modeled in a standing position with tail and trunk curled under, with rose-cut diamond-set eyes, with original red velvet and silk lined presentation box, apparently unmarked
    7½ in. (19 cm.) high, 10 in. (25.4 cm.) long

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    The present elephant, carved from a single block of nephrite, is an example of Fabergé's technically accomplished stone carving on an unusually large scale. According to Franz Birbaum, chief workmaster of the firm, "Nephrite was most widely used, because of its noble qualities and beauty . . . Both hard and ductile and free from the cracks which make many other stones so difficult to work, nephrite can be carved to the limits of perfection" (T. Fabergé and V. Skurlov, The History of the House of Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1992, p.39).
    Large hardstone models of animals by Fabergé are very rare compared with the miniature models more common in the production of the firm. The present elephant is similar in scale to 'Percy', a large jeweled, enamel and silver-gilt mounted carved bowenite model of an elephant (Christie's, Geneva, May 17, 1994, lot 232), which stands 22.5 centimeters high by 22.5 centimeters long. Further comparisons can be drawn to two carved nephrite models of elephants in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen of England (C. de Guitaut, Fabergé in the Royal Collection, London, 2003, pp. 98-99, nos. 112 and 113, illustrated). While much smaller in scale, both elephants show marked similarities to the present elephant both in form and manner of carving.

    Pre-Lot Text