A Large Faberge Imperial Love Trophies Egg. Item History: A gold egg in the Louis XVI style, enameled translucent pale blue over a guilloche ground, decorated with an elaborate band composed of painted enamel roses and translucent emerald green enameled leaves and panels of opalescent oyster enamel, and further bands of scrolls and acanthus chased in colored golds. It is surmounted by a pierced basket in colored golds of enameled roses among foliage set with rose-cut diamonds and hung with pearl swags. The interior is lined in silk with a hollow of about 24 mm. x 31 mm. (1 in. x 1 1/4 in.), which originally held the surprise. The egg is supported in a gold cradle by four columns modeled as love trophies in the form of quivers enameled pale blue and containing Cupid sets of arrows set with diamonds. Heavy swags of enameled roses and leaves set with rose-cut diamonds and pearls link each column. The whole is supported on a carved oval white onyx base inlaid with pale blue enamel panels, overlaid by chased trails of laurel in green gold with red gold rosettes, and stands on four bun feet in chased colored golds. Faberge's invoice, quoted by Faberge, Proler, & Skurlov, in Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs (London, 1997), says: Blue and opalescent enamel egg, on white onyx stand, basket with enamel bouquet, garlands of various enamels, mountings of colored golds with rose-cut diamonds, containing a white enamel easel with one ruby, pearls and rose-cut diamonds, one miniature of the Imperial children. This egg, seen only infrequently since being brought to the West, was a source of controversy for fifty years. Debate had raged over who received it and when and what the surprise was. The eggÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â€ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â™s appearance at the 1989 San Diego Exhibition settled one question; the gold marks proved it was made before hallmarking changes in 1908. So, the egg had been made as an Easter gift to mark the arrival of the long-awaited heir: the Tsesarevich Alexei had been born on July 30 (OS), 1904. Faberge scholars were divided over for whom this egg was made. But the evidence provided by Faberge, Proler, & Skurlov, in Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs (London, 1997), proves it was made in 1907 and for the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna. The question of the surprise is vexing. Francois Birbaum, in his 1919 recollections, discovered by Valentin Skurlov and reported by Marina Lopato in Apollo, February 1991, wrote the following: Sometimes appearance and content (of an Imperial egg) were timed to events in the family's life. For example, in the year when the Tsesarevich was born the egg resembled a cradle ornamented with garlands of flowers and enclosed the first portrait of the Tsesarevich on a medallion surrounded by diamonds. Later research by Lopato published in von Habsburg & Lopato, Faberge: Imperial Jeweller (London, 1993) led her to surmise that while Birbaum had the description of the egg correct, he confused the surprise with that of the Rose Trellis Egg, given to Alexandra Feodorovna in the same year: A diamond chain with medallion and miniature of H.I.H. the Grand Duke Tsesarevich Alexei Nicolaievich; the portrait of the Tsesarevich being painted on ivory. A. Kenneth Snowman, in Carl Faberge-Goldsmith to the Imperial Court of Russia (London, 1979), believed the surprise was a gold and enamel heart-shaped frame with a strut in the form of the signature "Nikki." The heart-shaped frame is illustrated as plate 333 in Snowman, Art of Carl Faberge (London, 1953), but the painting it contained is missing. The official invoice confirms the surprise was a miniature of all the Imperial children. In 2013, in his book Russian Empresses Mode and Style, Preben Ulstrup published a list of valuables evacuated from Gatchina Palace, because of an advance by German troops. Item 2 is described as "Gold Egg with blue enamel, decorated with diamonds and garlands, lying inside a portrait of the children of the Tsar (1907), one a marble [sic], stand." How this egg came to the West has yet to be documented. It is not listed in either the 1917 or 1922 inventories of confiscated Imperial treasure. It is possible the Egg came into the possession of Alexander Polotsov, the court official in charge of the evacuation described above. See the Gatchina Palace Egg entry for details. Equally, Hammer Galleries or its associates may have acquired this egg in the late 1930s through Anastas Mikoyan, the Soviet trade minister.