The last years of the Romanov dynasty and the tsardom of Russia are surrounded in a veil of mystery. The imperial family lived shielded away from the rest of the world in their glorious palaces. Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, desperate to save her son Alexei from his haemophilia, fell victim to the charlatan preacher Rasputin. Her faith in the Russian mystic, Grigori Rasputin, damaged her popularity and subsequently the popularity of the Romanov monarchy with the people of Russia in the dynasty's final years.

Blue Imperial pine egg Blue Imperial pine egg

Tsar Alexander III, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna and their children Nicholas, Xenia and Georgi, 1878 Tsar Alexander III, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna and their children Nicholas, Xenia and Georgi, 1878

However, the Fabergé Easter eggs served as a marker for the Romanov monarchy's grandeur and wealth.

In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned his court jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé to create the first egg, following the Russian tradition of presenting eggs and gifts at Easter, the most important feast in the Orthodox Church calendar. The Easter egg represented, as it still does today in religious celebrations, prosperity.

Replica of the Danish Palace egg which was made in 1890 Replica of the Danish Palace egg which was made in 1890

The first Fabergé egg was gifted to Maria Feodorovna, born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, from her husband Alexander III. Both enjoyed this act of gift-giving so much so that at all subsequent Easter festivals a new Fabergé was presented.

Fabergé - Imperial Egg - Limited Edition Fabergé - Imperial Egg - Limited Edition

Fabergé egg from the "Rosebud" collection decorated with Swarovski crystals Fabergé egg from the "Rosebud" collection decorated with Swarovski crystals

In 1894, following the death of Alexander III, his son, Nicholas II, succeeded him. Nicholas continued the tradition of presenting a precious Fabergé egg each Easter. Every year, Nicholas would commission two eggs, one for his mother, and the other for his wife Alexandra Feodorovna. The first egg Nicholas commissioned was the Rosenknospen egg, the whereabouts of which, todays, remains unsolved.

Replica of the Rosebud egg, originally made in 1895 Replica of the Rosebud egg, originally made in 1895

Crystal Fabergé egg Crystal Fabergé egg

The most expensive egg the Tsar gifted was the Winter Egg, made of crystal glass, which he presented to his mother in 1913. In 2002, the egg became the most expensive Fabergé piece ever sold at auction when it sold for £7.3 million ($9.6 million) at Christie's, New York.

Fabergé Crystal egg with gold leaf Fabergé Crystal egg with gold leaf

Replica of the Military Steel Egg, made in 1916 Replica of the Military Steel Egg, made in 1916

The fifty eggs that Fabergé produced for the Romanovs were lost during the Russian Revolution and the years that followed. Today, forty-five of the eggs have been recovered and are in museums and private collections in Europe and the United States.

Fabergé Guilloche egg, Russia, 20th century Fabergé Guilloche egg, Russia, 20th century

The legendary Fabergé eggs are still popular with collectors, with replicas and inspired pieces highly sought after.

All pieces featured in this article were sold at Catawiki in July. Check out more here.

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