Faberge and The V&A: The Four Seasons Scarf.
Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution opens at the V&A this weekend. Boasting loans from The Royal Collection and The Kremlin, this special exhibition focuses on Faberge’s London premises at 173 New Bond Street which opened in 1903. The exhibition will examine the iconic Russian jeweller’s enviable position at the centre of British high society. To celebrate this exhibition the museum asked me to design a scarf drawing on Faberge’s inspirations and the spirit of his age.
The exhibition brings together many masterpieces, including a number of his iconic Easter eggs created for the Russian Royal Family, alongside the equally exquisite everyday paraphernalia of aristocratic life at the turn of the twentieth century, notably an exquisite midnight blue enamel and diamond cigarette case and a novelty cigar cutter modelled as a carp.
Cigarette case, by Fabergé, 1908. Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021
This exciting commission got me thinking about my relationship with Faberge. I have been fascinated by the output of this master goldsmith and the world of excess and glamor he evoked since I first discovered him through books as a teenager. The first time I saw Faberge in real life must have been when I visited Royal Faberge, an exhibition as part of the Buckingham Palace summer opening in 2011. I was particularly taken by the tiny models of flowers frozen in rock crystal water. Composed of precious metals and semi precious stones, these surprisingly naturalistic objects are almost meditative. For me they are the most covetable of all Faberge’s creations and I am eager to admire them again.
Painted enamel rose with nephrite leaves standing in a rock crystal pot by Faberge c.1917. © Wartski, London
Faberge Bell Pulls, Christies 2019.
In 2019 I had the privilege of handling these carved quartz bell pulls at Christies as part of their Important Russian Art sale. Modelled as carp with jeweled eyes, surely these are the ultimate gift for the aristocrat who has everything!
I could not have imagined then that I would be exploring the heavenly world of Faberge to design a scarf for the V&A, my favourite museum in London.
Linocuts for the Four Seasons Scarf, Rory Hutton for The V&A 2021.
Designed exclusively for The V&A, this classic silk scarf evokes the romance and nostalgia of the Belle Epoch. The scarf draws inspiration from the four seasons, a popular theme in jewellery and the wider decorative arts of the period.
Coloured in delicate pink and blue, inspired by the fashionable guilloche enamel jewellery favoured by aristocrats and courtiers at the turn of the twentieth century. Each season is represented by a different plant. Lily of the Valley for spring, Pansies for summer, Wheat for autumn and Mistletoe for winter.
The romantic style synonymous with the era is further enhanced with bows and arrows, baskets of flowers and elaborately tied ribbons as well as Easter eggs, a nod to the Russian Imperial Court which commissioned some of the most iconic jewels of the era.
Faberge offered new highs of fantasy and luxury to delight his elite clientele. Ultimately this fantasy for the few was out of step with the reality for millions and this world of excess and beauty would vanish almost overnight.
This scarf is available from the onsite exhibition shop and online here. Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution opens Saturday 20th November 2021 and will run until May 8th 2022.