Spring and Rebirth: Easter and the Golden Egg

Peter Carl Fabergé's (1846-1920) The Lilies of the Valley Egg was an Easter gift for the Empress Alexandra (1872-1918) from her husband Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918). The Russian jeweler’s ateliers fabricated the Art Nouveau style egg in 1898. Comprised of gold covered in a translucent rose pink enamel ground, it is decorated with green leaves, pearl lilies, and diamond dewdrops. The surprise of the gift is revealed when twisting a gold-mounted pearl button at the side of the egg causes the ruby and diamond set crown at top to rise, exposing the miniature portraits of the Tsar and the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. Eggs have been a symbol of spring and rebirth since Pagan times. For Christians the egg is seen as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus; its hard shell corresponds to the sealed tomb of Christ, holding a new life. Italian painter Mariotto di Cristofano (1393-1457) rendered the resurrection of Christ from a porphyry tomb in the International Gothic Style. In Aesop's Fables, an egg has a different meaning. Killing The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs warns us not to be seduced by greed. American illustrator Milo Winter (1888- 1956) portrays the foolish farmer with his golden goose.