The largest exhibition of Faberge imperial eggs is staged in London at the V&A Museum

They are the fabulously decorated eggs that fascinated the last tsars and tsarinas – and could now be sold for up to £ 25 million each.

Only the Russian Revolution interrupted their creation, with jeweler Carl Faberges St. Petersburg jewelers seized by the Bolsheviks before fleeing to Switzerland and dying of a heart attack in 1920.

Now the largest exhibition in a generation of Faberge imperial eggs, made as unique Easter gifts from the tsar to his tsarina, is being staged in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Fifteen of the amazing creations have been put together along with other masterpieces.

The diamond trellis egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Alexander III to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna, for Easter in 1892. This egg contains a surprise of an ivory-colored elephant vending machine, which was lost until 2015.

The colonnade egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter in 1910. The decorative elements of the egg portray the emperor's family: The four gold cherubs around the bottom represent his daughters, the pigeons inside refer to him and his wife, and the cherub on the top symbolizes his son Tsarevich Alexei

The colonnade egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter in 1910. The decorative elements of the egg portray the emperor’s family: The four gold cherubs around the bottom represent his daughters, the pigeons inside refer to him and his wife, and the cherub on the top symbolizes his son Tsarevich Alexei

The Alexander Palace egg (pictured) was donated by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter in 1908. Emperor Nicholas II's children and home are celebrated with this ornate and gold-fitted nephrite egg.  Its shell is inlaid with oval miniature watercolor portraits of the couple's five children

The Alexander Palace egg (pictured) was donated by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for Easter in 1908. Emperor Nicholas II’s children and home are celebrated with this ornate and gold-fitted nephrite egg. Its shell is inlaid with oval miniature watercolor portraits of the couple’s five children

The flower basket (pictured) has a basket that contains a colorful abundance of enameled wild flowers that emerge from a base of gold moss.  The base was originally enamelled white to match the shell, but later damaged and re-enamelled blue.  Queen Mary bought the egg for her Faberge collection in 1933

The flower basket (pictured) has a basket that contains a colorful abundance of enameled wild flowers that emerge from a base of gold moss. The base was originally enamelled white to match the shell, but later damaged and re-enamelled blue. Queen Mary bought the egg for her Faberge collection in 1933

A spokesman for V&A says: ‘This is the largest collection that has been exhibited in public for more than 25 years.

‘It includes several never before shown in Britain, including the largest, the Moscow Kremlin egg, inspired by the architecture of Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral – and featuring a music box playing Tsar Nicholas II’s favorite hymn.

‘Also on display for the first time is the Alexander Palace Egg, featuring watercolor portraits of the children of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra – and featuring a model of the palace inside.’

Another highlight is the third imperial egg from 1887, found by a scrap dealer in 2011 – one of the elusive ‘missing’ eggs that had been lost for many years. It still contains its surprise, a Swiss pocket watch in gold.

The peacock egg from 1908 contains an enamelled gold peacock vending machine. The exhibition by curators Kieran McCarthy and Hanne Faurby illustrates for the first time the importance of Faberge’s London store, which opened in 1903.

Three of the exhibited eggs are from the Royal Collection, owned by the Queen – the Mosaic Egg, Basket Of Flowers Egg and Colonnade Egg.

The cradle with wreath eggs (pictured) was given by Emperor Nicholas II to his mother, the widowed Empress Maria Feodorovna.  From 1890, the design of the Imperial Easter Eggs began to celebrate events in Romanov's family life.  This egg marks the joy of the family at the birth of Tsarevich Alexei, a male heir, in 1904

The cradle with wreath eggs (pictured) was given by Emperor Nicholas II to his mother, the widowed Empress Maria Feodorovna. From 1890, the design of the Imperial Easter Eggs began to celebrate events in Romanov’s family life. This egg marks the joy of the family at the birth of Tsarevich Alexei, a male heir, in 1904

The winter egg (pictured) was inspired by Russia's harsh winters.  Its rock crystal body is decorated with delicately engraved and diamond-mounted platinum frost patterns

The winter egg (pictured) was inspired by Russia’s harsh winters. Its rock crystal body is decorated with delicately engraved and diamond-mounted platinum frost patterns

The third Imperial Easter egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter in 1887. Seven of the 50 Imperial Easter eggs produced by Faberge are now missing.  This adorned yellow golden egg was also lost until 2012, when it was rediscovered in America

The third Imperial Easter egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter in 1887. Seven of the 50 Imperial Easter eggs produced by Faberge are now missing. This adorned yellow golden egg was also lost until 2012, when it was rediscovered in America

The V&A spokesman adds: ‘Royalty, aristocrats, American heirs, exiled Russian grand dukes and maharajas, as well as socialites and financiers with newly earned fortunes, all flocked to the London Faberge jewelry store, the only overseas branch. They bought gifts of unsurpassed luxury for each other. ‘

The first egg, known as the chicken egg, was ordered by Tsar Alexander III in 1885. He and Tsarina Maria were delighted with its white enamel shell, ruby-eyed hen, golden plum and miniature copy of the tsar’s crown. Faberge became the official imperial crown jeweler.

Each egg was unique – and after a few years, it was determined that each egg contained a sparkling “surprise element”.

The peacock egg (pictured) contains a surprise of an enamelled gold peacock vending machine placed on a colored gold-flowering tree.  The peacock can be removed and wound up to go and wave tail feathers proudly

The peacock egg (pictured) contains a surprise of an enamelled gold peacock vending machine placed on a colored gold-flowering tree. The peacock can be removed and wound up to go and wave tail feathers proudly

The total freedom given to the master jeweler, who delivered his creations by hand, meant that they became increasingly elaborate.

His 1892 Diamond Trellis Egg contains a ‘surprise’ of a miniature clock elephant, made of ivory, which was first discovered lying unidentified in the Queen’s collection six years ago.

Nicholas II, who became tsar in 1894 but was executed with his wife and children by communist revolutionaries when Lenin swept to power in 1917, continued the tradition.

Strikingly, the 1915 Red Cross egg reflects the much-needed health care on the battlefield of Russia’s disastrous involvement in World War I against Germany.

Faberge’s lucrative contract only finally ended in 1918, when the Bolsheviks seized the company, the largest jewelers in Russia.

The chicken egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter in 1885. It was the first of its kind, and the emperor was so pleased with it that he continued to order an egg every year for Easter.

The chicken egg (pictured) was given by Emperor Alexander III to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter in 1885. It was the first of its kind, and the emperor was so pleased with it that he continued to order an egg every year for Easter.

After the outbreak of World War I, the design of the Imperial Easter Eggs reflected the conflict.  The Russian Red Cross was the theme of the Red Cross with Triptych Egg (pictured) given in 1915. By this time, Empress Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, Grand Duchess Olga and Tatiana, had signed up as nurses in the organization.

After the outbreak of World War I, the design of the Imperial Easter Eggs reflected the conflict. The Russian Red Cross was the theme of the Red Cross with Triptych Egg (pictured) given in 1915. By this time, Empress Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, Grand Duchess Olga and Tatiana, had signed up as nurses in the organization.

All its holdings were confiscated. The last two ordered eggs, believed to have been unfinished, were neither delivered nor paid for.

A total of 50 imperial eggs were made. To begin with, ten were kept in the Kremlin, ten were considered stolen, and others began to be sold by the Bolsheviks to wealthy European and American collectors.

Seven eggs are still missing – but as the artworks here show, they will forever be something to appreciate.

n Faberge In London: Romance To Revolution at V&A runs from Saturday 20 November to Sunday 8 May 2022.

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