RICHMOND, VA.- The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
has appointed Dr. Geza von Habsburg as guest curator of its Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection of Russian Imperial Jewels by Peter Carl Fabergé.
Von Habsburg is an internationally known author and authority on Fabergé. He has been curator and organizer for a number of Fabergé exhibitions in the United States and abroad, among them "Fabergé, Jeweler to the Tsars" (1986-87) at Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung in Munich, Germany, and "Fabergé in America," which was shown at VMFA and four other U.S. cities (1996-97).
He was chief curator of the exhibition "Fabergé, Imperial Court Jeweler," which was shown in St. Petersburg, Paris and London (1993-94). He has also written or co-written nine books on Fabergé and related topics, among them "Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and His World," published in 2000.
"We are delighted to have Dr. von Habsburg in this key position at VMFA," says VMFA Director Alex Nyerges. "Our Fabergé collection is one of the most important in the world, and someone of his authority and expertise as guest curator will add greatly to our understanding of the work of this significant artist."
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Pratt collection includes the largest public assemblage of Fabergé imperial Easter eggs outside Russia. The full Pratt collection numbers approximately 150 creations from the Fabergé workshops.
As guest curator at VMFA, von Habsburg will examine and catalog the collection in anticipation of a major exhibition and accompanying publication. The exhibition, "Fabergé Revealed," will be on view at VMFA beginning July 9, 2011, in the new special exhibition galleries of the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing, opening in May. The exhibition will be shown only in Richmond.
For the first time, the exhibition will present the entire VMFA collection of Fabergé works and associated items alongside a number of key loans from prominent international collectors.
A publication will catalog the entire VMFA Fabergé collection and will include a series of essays by von Habsburg and other international scholars. Following the closing of "Fabergé Revealed," von Habsburg will oversee the reinstallation of the collection in an enlarged and redesigned permanent gallery.
Von Habsburg is the grandson of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony and the great-great-grandson of Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria. Born in Budapest in 1940, he attended universities in Fribourg and Berne, Switzerland; Munich, Germany; and Florence, Italy. He earned a doctoral degree from the University of Fribourg in 1965. He is curatorial director of the London-based Fabergé Company.
VMFA's Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection of Russian Imperial Jewels by Peter Carl Fabergé was formed between 1933 and 1946 by Lillian Thomas Pratt of Fredericksburg, Va., the wife of General Motors executive John Lee Pratt. In 1947 she bequeathed several hundred pieces of Russian art, many from the Fabergé workshops, to VMFA.
Fabergé, born the son of a jeweler in St. Petersburg in 1846, was named goldsmith and jeweler to the Russian court in the mid-1880s. In 1885, Czar Alexander III proposed to Fabergé the creation of an elaborate Easter egg to be presented to the czarina. Such special eggs became an Easter tradition throughout Alexander's reign and that of his son and successor, Nicholas II. Fifty imperial eggs are known to have been fashioned before the fall of the house of Romanov in 1917. Five, all from Nicholas' reign, are in the Pratt collection. They are the Revolving Miniatures Egg (1896), the Pelican Egg (1897), the Peter the Great Egg (1903), the Czarevitch Egg (1912) and the Red Cross Egg (1915).
Fabergé fled Russia in 1918, after his firm was closed by the Bolsheviks. He died in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1920.