The Emperor Nicholas II gave this Egg to his wife, the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna for Easter 1903. It commemorates the 200th anniversary of the founding of Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.
Its body of varicoloured gold is in the rococo-revival style and was inspired by a French nécessaire with a clock that is still in the Hermitage. The body of the Egg is rich in symbolism. In Russia roses and laurel leaves represent triumph and pride. The bulrushes shown in our image to the left and right of the portrait are there to symbolise the marshy land upon which Peter the Great built the city that bears his name. While the portrait of Nicholas II appears on one side of the Egg, Peter the Great’s portrait appears on the opposite side.
Apart from the portraits, the shell of the Egg bears two other watercolour medallions, which incidentally are painted on ivory and covered with rock crystal as opposed to glass for protection. At the back below 1703 in diamonds is a painting of the humble log cabin which is said to have been built with Peter the Great’s own hands on the site of Saint Petersburg. By contrast, at the front of the Egg under the date 1903 in diamonds, is a painting of the impressive and luxurious 1000 room Winter Palace at which Nicholas II resided and entertained.
The surprise of this Egg is a miniature replica of Etienne-Maurice Falconet’s statue of the Bronze Horseman, which is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great, commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1782. It still stands in Senate Square on the banks of Saint Petersburg’s river Neva and has become the symbol of the city. When the Egg is opened, the gilt bronze statue upon a sapphire rock (shaped as the original Thunder Stone pedestal) rises from the depths of the Egg. It is dramatically viewed against the golden yellow guilloché enamel of the Egg’s raised cover. The platform, railings and chain fencing that support and surround the model are all crafted in gold. Fabergé invoiced the Emperor 9760 roubles for this Egg in 1903.
In 1927 the Soviets valued it at 16,008 roubles. However, the USSR’s Antikvariat sold it to an unnamed buyer in 1933 for 4000 roubles. The buyer could well have been Alexandra Schaffer of New York’s Russian Imperial Treasures Inc. In 1941 the Schaffers formed a partnership with A la Vieille Russie (ALVR) of Paris and the Russian Imperial Treasures became ALVR of New York. Mrs Pratt agreed to purchase the Egg in 1942 for $16,5000. She paid for it in 33 monthly instalments ranging from $150 to $750 from February 1942 through to December 1944. Today, the Egg is probably worth upwards of $25 million. The Egg is 10.8 cm (4.25in) high. (x)
Most songs we can trace to the songwriter even though he or she may no longer be with us. Sometimes the song gives the creator as “Anonymous,” or its cousin, “Traditional.” “The House of the Rising Sun” comes into the “unknown author” category. It probably was first sung hundreds of years ago with word changes down the centuries.
The Folly of Artois designed by François-Joseph Bélanger in the Bagatelle Park, eighteenth century.
Madness (house of leisure)
A Folly is a holiday home or reception built since the seventeenth and mainly in the nineteenth by the aristocracy or the wealthy bourgeoisieon the outskirts of cities. Initially isolated in the countryside, follies were later joined by extensive urbanization. They preceded bourgeois weekend residences and holiday villas. The latter became even more widespread as the romantic attraction of the seaside and the mountains combined with the new transport possibilities of the 19th century.
By extension the appellation folie was used for princely residences (or not) according to their architectural extravagance or the unreasonableness of their situation or their use. The term has finally become the name of the small holiday housing villa.
The follies were initially constructions inspired by the summer palaces of the aristocracy of the Italian Renaissance. The Palladian model was adapted to areas and bourgeois fortunes and gave peri-urban buildings located in natural sites.
Olafur Eliasson is the artist invited by the Château de Versailles from June to November 2016.
Olafur Eliasson, a Dano-Icelandic artist born in 1967 enjoys international recognition, his work probes perception, movement, physical experience, and self-sense.
He is best known for its spectacular installations, so the very popular the weather project (2003) in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, London, has been seen by more than two million people, or the New York City waterfalls (2008), four major artificial waterfalls installed on the banks of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Since 2008, the Château de Versailles organizes an exhibition dedicated to a French or foreign artist each year. Jeff Koons in 2008, Xavier Veilhan in 2009, Takashi Murakami in 2010, Bernar Venet in 2011, Joana Vasconcelos in 2012, Giuseppe Penone in 2013, Lee Ufan in 2014 and Anish Kapoor in 2015: all these artists have established an original dialogue between their works and the Château and the He gardens of Versailles. Since 2013 it is Alfred Pacquement who acts as the art commissar to these exhibitions.
“With Olafur Eliasson, the stars can meet, the horizon will shirk, and all our perceptions will blur. The man of the lights will make the lines dance with the Sun King, says Catherine Pégard, President of the Château de Versailles.
“I am excited to work in a place as emblematic as Versailles. The Château and its gardens are so rich in meaning and history, politics, dreams, vision, it is an exhilarating challenge to create an artistic intervention that modifies the feeling of visitors and offers a contemporary perspective on this strong heritage. I consider that art is a co-producer of reality, of our sense of the present, of society and of the unity of men. It is very inspiring to have through art the opportunity to co-produce the current perception of Versailles, explains Olafur Eliasson.
Biography Olafur Eliasson has had a number of important exhibitions in France. “Every morning I feel different, every night I feel the same (2002), at the Museum of modern art of the city of Paris, in contact (2014), the first monographic exhibition organized in the brand new Louis Vuitton Foundation, where Eliasson also created the permanent installation inside the horizon (2014). On the occasion of the COP21 United Nations Conference on climate change held in Paris in December 2015, Eliasson made the climatic changes palpable with ice watch, twelve huge fragments of Greenlandic glacier, forming a ephemeral clock on the Pantheon square.
In 2012, Olafur Eliasson and the engineer Frederik Ottesen design little sun, a solar energy lamp and base the eponymous structure. As a social enterprise, this international project aims to provide clean and inexpensive light to people without access to electricity around the world, it promotes sustainable development and raises awareness of the necessary access to energy and light. In early January in Davos, Eliasson received the prestigious WEF Crystal Award for “working towards integrating all communities” – a tribute to the work done with little sun.
From 2009 to 2014, Eliasson led the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for space experiments), an innovative model of artistic education attached to the Berlin University of the arts. The archives of the Institute’s activities are available on the Internet.
In 2014, with architect Sebastian Behmann, Eliasson created Studio other spaces, an International Office for art and architecture. During Studio Olafur Eliasson for architecture, Studio other spaces is dedicated to projects of interdisciplinary and experimental constructions and works in the public space.
Founded in 1995, the Studio Eliasson employs ninety people today: artisans, specialist technicians, architects, archivists, administrators and cooks. They work with Eliasson in the development and production of works and exhibitions, but also in the archiving and communication of his work, both in digital form and in paper format. In addition to performing on-site works, the Studio engages engineers or other specialists and collaborates with cultural operators, decision-makers, and scientists around the world.
Giuseppe Verdi was born Joseph Fortunin François, on October 10th, 1813, at La Roncole, a small village near Busseto in the Duchy of Parma, Italy. The world knows him as Guiseppe Verdi.He is Italy’s most revered composer, and, though he died as long ago as 1901, his music still moves the world. His father owned a general store which doubled as an inn, and his mother was a spinner. Though Guiseppe’s father was more or less illiterate, he recognized that his son had an extraordinary talent for music, and acquired a second-hand spinet for him. This the child played with such talent that the man who once came to repair it decided to do it for free.Initially, he studied under Don Baistrocchi and Maestro Provesi, an organist at La Collegiata of San Bartolomeo. They taught him Latin as well as the rudiments of musical composition and playing instruments.
The 14-year-old boy came to be considered the best pianist in the village, and, by the time he was 17, he had made a name of sorts as a composer, writing numerous pieces for La Collegiata and the Philharmonic Society.In the meanwhile, Guiseppe’s father consulted Antonio Barezzi, a wealthy man with whom he did business, who played several instruments and was president of the Busseto Philharmonic.Impressed by the abilities of the boy Guiseppe, Barezzi persuaded Verdi’s father to let him go to Milan to study music, and bore all the expenses himself.At Milan, he was denied admission to the Conservatory of Music on the grounds that he was over age. Instead, he studied under Vincenzo Lavigna, who had been harpsichordist at the Scala Theatre.
He also frequented the theatres in Milan, getting to know the operatic repertoire of the time.He subsequently returned to Besetto, and married Margherita Barezzi, daughter of his benefactor. The couple had two children, a boy and a girl. On October 17, 1839, Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, was performed and received acclaim from critics and public alike, and he was offered a contract by La Scala’s manager, Bartolomeo Merelli.But tragedy lay round the corner
Within the space of two years, between 1837 and 1839, Verdi lost his daughter, son and wife to illness. Margherita died a few months after Oberto was first staged. “A third coffin has gone out of my house”, said Verdi. “I am alone”. This last bereavement came while he was working on a comedy, Un giorno di regno, which flopped, and Verdi swore never to write a comedy again.Legend has it that at 28, living alone in a Milanese garret and unable to write any music, a distraught Verdi was wandering the city’s streets one snowy night when he unexpectedly ran into Merelli. That chance meeting changed his life. Marelli persuaded him to write Nabucco, the Italian word for Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who took the people of Israel captive. The story of how the Jews were delivered from slavery exactly matched the mood of the Risorgimento, or revolutionary movement then sweeping Italy.
The people identified with the plight of the Hebrew slaves and took inspiration from the Jews’ hope of eventual liberation. The plaintive song of the slaves, gathered on the banks of the river Euphrates, lamenting their fate and recalling the psalms they had sung in their homeland, struck familiar chords in the minds of the Italians under Austrian domination.Nabucco was a sensational success when it was premiered in 1842, and Verdi’s name was nade. He became rich and famous, and also a national hero.I Lombardi alla prima crociata, Ernani, I due Foscari and Alzira followed, each as well-acclaimed as the other, and each exploring a different dramatic and musical experience. In Macbeth, 1847, Verdi took on a Shakespearean theme for the first time.By the time he was 34 years old, Verdi was internationally famous and his operas were being performed all over the world.
He combined the Italian operatic concept of Bela Canto or beautiful singing with a powerful sense of drama, putting him with the top-most composers of all time.In Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, and ultimately in 1871, Aida, Verdi reached his zenith.In between churning out one masterpiece after another, Verdi had struck up a relationship with Giuseppina Streponi, a soprano whom he had met during his early years as a composer, and whom he caught up with in France. The two of them lived together in defiance of custom, for ten years, till they eventually married in 1859.
Per me giunto è il dì supremo, no, mai più ci rivedrem; ci congiunga Iddio nel ciel, Ei che premia i suoi fedel’. Verdi. Don Carlo
After Aida, Verdi retired from the world of music. But an exciting libretto, Otello, enticed him back to an active musical life and when it opened in Milan in 1887, he had to take about 20 curtain calls and the audience was not satisfied till they had showered him with gifts and towed his carriage to his hotel.At the death of national Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni in 1874, Verdi composed his Messa da Requiem, which many consider his greatest operatic work.With Falstaff, he broke his vow not to write a comedy, to rollicking success.Giuseppina and he moved into Sant’Agasta, a run-down farm he had purchased and breathed new life into. He took to farming, introducing innovative agricultural processes with great success, and transformed the farm profile of the region.When Giuseppina died in 1897, a heart-broken Verdi moved into the Grand Hotel in Milan, where he suffered a stroke four years later, and died on January 27, 1901.Verdi, was elected deputy to the first Italian parliament, and was a generous philanthropist. He founded La Casa di Riposo, a retirement home for musicians.
He gave of his time, talents and money to organizations dedicated to bettering the lives of those less fortunate than himself.He and Giuseppina were buried at La Casa di Riposo while Italy mourned. The crowds sang ‘Va, pensiero’, from the chorus of the Hebrew slaves in Nabucco.Even those in today’s world who are uninitiated into the beauties of Italian opera heard Verdi when the strains of ‘Libera Me’ (Liberate Me) filled Westminster Abbey in 1997 at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. ‘Libera Me’ is the final part of Verdi’s Requim.Verdi is no more, but his music lives on. Every year, since 1993, the Czech State Opera opens its theatrical season with a celebration of his life and works. It holds an annual three-week end-of-summer season devoted to this Italian musical giant.The festival focuses on three of Verdi’s most popular works: Rigoletto, Aida and La traviata, as well as the spectacular Nabucco.
Rigoletto is based on Victor Hugo’s novel Le roi s’amuse, while La traviata is also based on a French novel, this one Dumas fils’ La dame aux camélias. Aida, the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers – the triumphant Egyptian captain Radamès and the captured Ethiopian slave-girl, Aida – is one of the best-loved operas of all time.The festival starts on the third Tuesday of August every year. It is held at the State Opera House, which opened to the public with the staging of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg on 5 January 1888. Carl Muck, Franz Schalk, Leo Blech, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Arthur Nikisch, Felix Weingartner, Alexander Zemlinsky and Georg Szell are among those who have graced its premises, and the works of composers like Krenek, Hindemith, Korngold and Schreker have all found a venue here. In 1991, with the foundation of the Prague State Opera, it took got a new lease of life.As in previous years, this year too, the festival will feature some outstanding international singers, and Prague is a favoured destination for Verdi fans and music lovers.