The wealth of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, and the royal family is almost beyond comprehension. Built in the mid-18th century and designed by architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg had more than 1,000 rooms.
Each room was adorned with fine art, hand crafted furinishings, polished floors made of exotic woods, and richly colored tapestries. And this was but one of several palaces used by the royal family depending on the season!
In every generation there are artisans with extraordinary talents that build an empire by catering to the rich and famous. In the last decades of the Romanov dynasty in Russia that craftsman was Peter Carl Fabergé.
He is best known today for his elaborate jeweled Imperial Easter eggs. Each was an artistic and mechanical masterpiece. An excellent example is the Trans-Siberian Railway Egg that was created in 1900 to commemorate completion of the railway that connected Moscow and Vladivostok. Inside the ornate egg was a miniature train that with the turn of a key would move along a track through a forested Russian landscape dusted with snow made of diamond dust.
The eggs remain his most famous creations. But he also made many other objects that reflected the luxury and wealth of the buyers. He created clocks, cigarette cases, and jewelry. He also crafted stunning picture, icon, portrait and photograph frames for Tsar Nicholas.
They were made of precious metals, such as gold and silver, and decorated with enamel, pearls, diamonds and other gemstones. Some of them had intricate mechanisms that allowed them to open and reveal hidden compartments or miniatures.
The frames were highly cherished by the imperial family, who displayed them in their palaces and residences. They were also admired by the public, who could see them in exhibitions or magazines. They represented the splendor and glamour of the Romanov dynasty, as well as their personal tastes and emotions.
Frames were very important for Tsar Nicholas, who was an avid collector and patron of the arts. He paid great attention to the quality and design of the frames, which he often chose himself or approved personally.
Portrait frames were designed to complement the style and personality of the person portrayed, as well as to convey a certain message or mood. Some frames were also decorated with motifs related to his hobbies and passions, such as flowers, animals, military insignia and heraldic emblems.
Today, the Faberge frames are considered to be masterpieces of art, and tangible links to a lost chapter of history. They are very rare and expensive, and they attract collectors and admirers from all over the world.
You may not have the wealth of a tsar. But your pictures, portraits and photographs are as valuable to you as his were to his family. They are heirlooms and treasures.
And that is the respect they will be given by the craftsmen at Avant Print & Frame located in the historic heart of Kingman, Arizona. We are the art printing and framing shop that serves Mohave County with personalized service, giclée fine art printing, and museum quality custom archival framing.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America