Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: A Miniature Fabergé Piano, c. 1896

Piano by Michael Perchin
Created before 1896
Collected by Queen Mary
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Mikhail Evlampievich Perkhin (1860-1903, frequently listed under the anglicized version of his name, Michael Perchin) was one of Fabergé’s chief workmasters, and, undoubtedly, alongside Viktor Aarne, one of the most brilliant and prolific artists under the employ of Carl Fabergé.

Here’s a nifty example of his work—a lovely miniature piano of nephrite, two-color gold and enamel. We’re not sure the exact year that Perchin made this, but it appears to match his pre-1896 work.

The piece didn’t join the other Fabergé in the Royal Collection until it was somehow acquired by Queen Mary, Consort of George V (1867-1953), sometime between 1922-1931
Queen Mary, like her mother-in-law, Queen Alexandra, before her, had a special fondness for Fabergé’s miniature “objets de fantasie.” These include several examples of miniature furniture in the form of bonbonnières (candy dishes).

This miniature piano of Siberian nephrite is carved and polished to resemble ebonized wood. It is a nearly exact replica of the real thing. The lid opens for use as a bonbonnière and the front drops down to reveal a miniature keyboard in gold and enamel, inscribed C. Fabergé.

The piano belonged originally to Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna—niece of Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. The piece can be clearly seen in one of the display cases in photographs of the exhibition which Fabergé held in St Petersburg in 1902. We’ll never know how Queen Mary managed to get it, but I’m not surprised that she did. The former Mary of Teck was passionate about retrieving items which once belonged to the British Royal Family or other related Royal Families so that they might be preserved. 

Regular readers of this blog know how much of a fan I am of Her Majesty Queen Mary. If you, too, are a fan of Mary of Teck, you might enjoy our “Teck Support” products—available only in our online store.

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