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Royal Collection Displays Queen Victoria Faberge Notebook at Palace of Holyroodhouse

A Faberge notebook in which Queen Victoria recorded guests who attended her Diamond Jubilee celebrations is to go on display in the exhibition Treasures from The Queen’s Palaces at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse from 16 March. The Queen signed and dated the notebook herself. On every other page are the signatures of her guests, who included crowned heads of Europe. Many had attended the dinner at Buckingham Palace on the evening before the official Jubilee commemoration on 22 June 1897. Queen Victoria later described that evening in her journal. She wrote, ‘The dinner was in the Supper Room…All the family, foreign Royalties, special Ambassadors & Envoys were invited. I sat between the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand & the Pce of Naples.’

Queen Victoria Faberge notebook. The Royal Collection © 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The exhibition Treasures from The Queen’s Palaces reflects the tastes of monarchs and other members of the royal family who have shaped the Royal Collection over the past five centuries. The selection of 100 outstanding works has been made across the entire breadth of the Collection and from nine royal residences. It includes paintings, drawings, miniatures, watercolours, manuscripts, furniture, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. Most items will be shown in Scotland for the first time.

The notebook is one of more than 20 pieces of Fabergé to go on display in the exhibition, which marks Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Scotland. Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II are the only two sovereigns in the history of the British Monarchy to have reached this milestone.

The notebook was purchased in St Petersburg in December 1896 for 250 roubles and given to Queen Victoria as a Christmas present by Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, after their visit to Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, earlier that year. It is inscribed by the Tsar and Tsarina, ‘For Dearest Grandmama from Nicky and Alix… Xmas 1896’. The Queen wrote fondly of their visit, ‘It seems quite like a dream having dear Alicky & Nicky here.’ During the visit the Tsarina showed Queen Victoria some of her jewels, many of which were supplied by Fabergé. Victoria wrote, ‘Alix showed me her beautiful jewels, of which she has quantities, all her own private property.’

Although a highly practical object, the notebook displays the finest techniques employed by Carl Fabergé, the great jeweller and goldsmith of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The silver-gilt case is engine-turned with geometric and sunburst patterns and enamelled in red and oyster – an outstanding example of Fabergé’s famous revival of guilloché enamelling. The surface is embellished with silver-gilt laurel wreaths, stylised flowers and foliage. The pencil, concealed in the hinge, is set with cabochon moonstones at either end.

Successive generations of the Royal Family created the royal collection of works by Fabergé, which today is unparalleled in size, range and quality. Two of Fabergé’s Imperial Easter Eggs will also be on display in the exhibition. They include the Mosaic Egg, one of the most sophisticated and extraordinary of the Russian master’s works. Inside it holds a ‘surprise’ in the form of a medallion painted with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife. The Egg was the Tsar’s Easter gift to his wife in 1914 and was among the many treasures confiscated after their deaths. It was purchased by King George V in 1933, probably for Queen Mary’s birthday on 26 May. –

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