I’ve wanted to paint one of Peter Carl Fabergé’s Imperial Easter eggs for a long time, but could never decide which one. I looked at photos for all the known eggs and found the Pansy Egg, which I have never seen before.
It was commissioned in 1899 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia for his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodoronova. One of only two Imperial Easter eggs made in the Art Nouveau style, it is 14.6cm tall.
The egg is made of nephrite, gold, diamonds, white, red, green and opaque violet enamel. It rests upon a stand of silver gilt, in the shape of twisting leaves and branches which rise up to hold the egg. Five enamelled pansies surround the egg and the top lifts off to reveal the surprise, which is a heart shaped picture frame on an easel. On the surprise there are 11 tiny, red-enamelled wild strawberries with personalised monograms, which lift to show portraits of the Imperial family. The Pansy Egg is now in private ownership in New Orleans, USA.
The surprise was far too intricate to paint, as you can see from the photo I have included, but I had a go at the egg. I spent ages drawing the egg and all the details, to get the proportions correct. Hooker’s Green was the perfect colour for the egg so I painted 3 layers on Bockingford 300gsm NOT watercolour paper to achieve the mottled effect of the nephrite. For the silver areas on the pansies where the diamonds rest I used SAA Silver watercolour paint. All the gold areas I painted with SAA gold watercolour paint with Schmincke Aqua Bronze Rich Gold powder mixed in. The base looked a little flat with all the gold paint, so I used lemon yellow for the highlights and van Dyke brown for areas in shadow.
I am pleased with the result, but it did take a lot longer than I thought it would!