The Jewelry Brand Launches a High-Tech Art Journal Steeped in Russian History
NOWNESS invited author and jewelry historian Vivienne Becker to shed light on a tale of buried treasure included in Fabergé’s new iPad-only art journal, Mir Fabergé. The London-based Becker, who has authored eight books and is a contributing editor to the Financial Times’s How to Spend It magazine, details an awe-inspiring discovery …
In 1990, as a stately but dilapidated 19th-century Moscow mansion was being demolished on Solyanka Street, workers uncovered two battered and bashed old sweet-tins, wrapped in a pre-revolutionary poster and hidden away under a windowsill. Astonishingly, the tins housed a sparkling stash of jewels, in pristine condition, many still with price tags: gold and platinum, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds, lustrous black and white pearls. They were examined by experts, and turned out to be the work of Peter Carl Fabergé, legendary goldsmith to the Tzars. The mansion had been bought in 1909 by Pavel Kharitonenko, a larger-than-life Moscow merchant and Fabergé client known as the “Sugar King,” as he had built his enormous wealth on trading sugar beet. Vladimir Stepanovich Averkiev, the workshop manager of the Fabergé Moscow branch, also lived in the mansion. Kharitonenko died in 1914, and a few years later, as political unrest shook Russia, his widow Vera asked Averkiev to hide some of her precious treasures, along with a parcel of jewels given to Averkiev by Fabergé to stash away, in the hope they might escape the Bolsheviks. The story of the discovery has been brought to life through caricatured illustrations by Lebanese artist Moussa Saleh. The tale is one of six revolving around Fabergé’s rich legacy to be recounted in multimedia, through words, paintings, photography, film, dance, and music, for the first “issue” of Mir Fabergé, a trailblazing iPad art journal inspired by Mir Iskusstva, the magazine and art movement of the same name, instigated by [Ballets Russes founder] Sergei Diaghilev and his circle of friends. True to the eponymous jewelry house behind it, which was revitalised two years ago, Mir Fabergé, fuses tradition and modernity with folk art, fable and fantasy, in quintessentially Russian fashion. The Mir Fabergé application is available free from iTunes from 16th June.
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