‘Rediscover’ famous Fabergé eggs, frames at Hillwood this summer

WASHINGTON — What did you get your mother for her last birthday?

In 1931, Eleanor Barzin gifted her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, one of the 50 famous Fabergé eggs made for the Russian Imperial family between 1885 and 1917.

Now, that’s a gift.

The “Catherine the Great” egg is one of two eggs and nearly 90 Fabergé pieces Post collected throughout her lifetime. And through Jan. 13, 2019, those items are on display in “Fabergé Rediscovered” at D.C.’s Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

Notebook (Carnet) with Pencil, St. Petersburg, 1741-1761. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.30.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Notebook (Carnet) with Pencil, St. Petersburg, 1741-1761. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.30.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Catherine the Great Easter Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Catherine the Great Easter egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) ((Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun))
Catherine the Great Easter Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun
Catherine the Great Easter egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) ((Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun))
Brooch with Miniatures of Nicholas II and Alexandra, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1899-1903. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.241. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Brooch with Miniatures of Nicholas II and Alexandra, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1899-1903. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.241. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Leaf-Shaped Box, Fabergé, Moscow, 1899-1908. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.219.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Leaf-Shaped Box, Fabergé, Moscow, 1899-1908. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.219.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Egg-shaped Basket, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.240. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Egg-shaped Basket, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.240. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Notebook (carnet de bal) with Miniature of Empress Alexandra, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, ca. 1894. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.77.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Cane Handle, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1901-1902. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.66. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
Icon of the Elevation of the True Cross, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 54.29. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Icon of the Elevation of the True Cross, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 54.29. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) ((Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun))
Cigarette Box, Moscow, 1914-1917. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 12.378. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Cigarette Box, Moscow, 1914-1917. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 12.378. Photographed by Alex Braun. (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun) (Courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens/Photographed by Alex Braun)
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Notebook (Carnet) with Pencil, St. Petersburg, 1741-1761. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.30.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Catherine the Great Easter Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Catherine the Great Easter Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1914. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.81.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun
Brooch with Miniatures of Nicholas II and Alexandra, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1899-1903. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.241. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Twelve Monogram Egg, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1896. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.63. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Leaf-Shaped Box, Fabergé, Moscow, 1899-1908. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.219.1-2. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Egg-shaped Basket, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 11.240. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Icon of the Elevation of the True Cross, Fabergé, St. Petersburg, 1886-1898. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 54.29. Photographed by Alex Braun.
Cigarette Box, Moscow, 1914-1917. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, acc. no. 12.378. Photographed by Alex Braun.

“It’s all about the rediscoveries and new stories about our objects here at Hillwood,” said exhibit curator Wilfried Zeisler.

The eggs, clocks, frames and music boxes featured in the exhibit are more than a century old, but recent revelations are rewriting the stories behind the precious objects, hence the exhibit name, “Fabergé Rediscovered.”

Zeisler explained the 2014 discovery of one of Fabergé’s lost eggs (10 disappeared during the Russian Revolution and several are still missing) reshuffled the timeline for some of the jeweler’s other objects. The newly found egg, Tsar Alexander III’s 1887 Easter gift to his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, resurfaced at a flea market in the Midwest, of all places.

Newer technologies are also helping to bring the historic objects to life. Zeisler pointed to a 3D-printed recreation of one of the “surprises” hidden inside a Fabergé egg (a folded silver frame for miniature portraits).

Visitors can listen to music play from a Fabergé music box, view an egg on loan from Prince Albert II of Monaco, and check out a rare wooden Fabergé case (Zeisler estimates the jeweler only made about 10 pieces of furniture in his career), which Post purchased in the 1930s to display her growing Fabergé collection.

“Fabergé Rediscovered” is now open during Hillwood’s hours of operation, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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