Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920)

Peter Carl Fabergé
Peter Carl Fabergé

Fabergé, Peter Carl. (1846-1920) [fah-bair-zhay', fȧ-bĕr-zhā′]

Russian name Karl Gustavovich Fabergé. Born May 30, 1846 in St. Petersburg, which is now Leningrad. He was one of the greatest jewelers and goldsmiths of the 19th Century and dealt in decorative arts. His work has often been compared to Benvenuto Cellini. He was of Huguenot descent. Educated in Germany, Italy, France, and England.

By 1842, his father had established himself in St. Petersburg as a jeweler, dealing in fine ornamental objects, a tradition which Peter continued after inheriting the family business in 1870 when he inherited his father Gustav's jewelry firm.

He soon began to manufacture decorative products, objets d' art later exhibiting his works in Moscow's Pan-Russian Exhibition (1882). His reputation was swiftly established internationally, and royalty, patronized him.

Assisted by his sons and associates, Swiss artisan François Berbaum, became a brilliant designer. He made a bold change from the exclusive design and manufacture of conventional jewelry to the creation of object of fantasy. He was inspired by decorative arts under King Louis XVI of France, which influenced the design of many objects he produced.

The Faberge' firm was in its heyday during the reign of Alexander III and Nicolas II. More than 500 artisans were in its employ with branches in Moscow (1887), Kiev (1905), and London (1906). Notably, as court jeweler to Tsar Alexander III, Faberge designed jeweled eggs which the monarch presented to the Tsarina upon Easter morning. These ingenious eggs opened and revealed a tiny miniature including a peacock, coronation coach, et cetera.

Among the artisans in his employment were master craftsman Michael Perchin. The products became famous for exquisite masterpieces including flowers, figure groups, bibelots, animals, and celebrated jeweled, decorated enamel imperial Easter eggs often presented as gifts by the tsars. Emperor Alexander III of Russia commissioned the first of the eggs for his tsaritsa in 1884, and his successor, Nicholas II, continued the tradition.

Fabergé's workshops created unique and outstanding imaginative works until the Russian Revolution in 1917. The firm was nationalized and then closed down in 1918 by the Bolsheviks. As the new government would tolerate no object of luxury, he died in exile, in Lausanne on September 24, 1920 and was buried at Cannes, France.


  • Encyclopedia International, ©1966 (Grolier Inc.)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia, ©1984
  • Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, ©1991
  • Fabergé and his Eggs
  • Foreigners in Russia: Peter Carl Faberge
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