Famous auctioneer and antiques expert Charles Hanson says the discovery of two rare Fabergé flowers is his ‘most significant find ever’.
Charles, a familiar face on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, has been making headline discoveries for more than 15 years but says the Fabergé masterpieces took his breath away.
The elegant ornaments, found wrapped in a tea towel inside a shoe box, are expected to fetch up to £500,000 when they go to auction at Hansons London on Monday 11th June. In March, a Fabergé flower found by TV’s Antiques Roadshow was valued at £1m.
Mr Hanson, founder of Hansons London and Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, said: “It was totally unexpected – as the best finds always are.
“A client came along to our Hampton Court office in Bridge Road, carrying a humble cardboard box. Inside, wrapped in an old tea towel, was the holy grail of what an auctioneer can expect only in their wildest of dreams - not one, but two, Fabergé flowers
“It was spellbinding - a quite extraordinary find made during a routine valuation morning. These beautiful hardstone flowers are Fabergé masterpieces and the property of a lady.
“There was great excitement when I realised what we were assessing. The two botanical studies, created by Fabergé in Imperial Russia, were crafted in the early 20th century, circa 1907-1910, and are six inches long. These are 'objects de fantaisie’, simply made for guests to admire.
“The enormity of such finds cannot be under estimated. Such works are the rarest of Fabergé's craftsmanship and are very special.
“We expect worldwide interest and leading buyers of the finest Fabergé to be captivated by these wonderful botanical studies. Hansons blossomed when we first opened in Derbyshire 13 years ago and it’s wonderful to see us flowering now in London.”
According to Franz Birbaum, Fabergé’s senior designer from 1896, such a genre was inspired by Chinese art and brought to Peter Carl Fabergé’s attention when the firm were called upon to repair a bunch of chrysanthemums from the palace of the Chinese Emperor.
Only about 80 of Fabergé’s botanical studies are known to have survived with the majority in the Royal Collection.
Charles Hanson said: “The Fabergé barberry bush with purpurine berries and jade leaves demonstrates breathtaking luxury. It’s chased and engraved gold stem sits within a carved rock crystal vase appearing to be half full of water. It is extraordinarily delicate with rich, soft red berries so real they could drop any time on ripening
“The other Fabergé flower takes the form of a highly naturalistic morning glory blossom on a jade jardinière and aventurine quartz stand. The gold flowers, enamelled white with shades of pale pink and lilac are inset with 'dew drops' of diamonds. A bud is bursting to open and flower. The leaves are carved Siberian jade nephrite.
“Fabergé’s creations are truly still-life jewels. Flowers by Fabergé are held in high esteem in Russia as they herald the end of truly harsh and ferocious winters.
“The compositions are a celebration of Russia’s extraordinarily varied mineral wealth and are inspired by the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging.
“The British royal family led the fashion for Fabergé and its glittering clientele included aristocrats and socialites. The most important collection of Fabergé flowers is the Royal Collection. It was started by Queen Alexandra and has been added to by Queen Mary, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales.”
“The delicate and beautiful creations entranced the highest order of society and have mesmerised generations ever since.”
The flower groups are expected to fetch up to £500,000 and will be sold as two lots on June 11 at 7.30pm at Hansons London saleroom, the Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. Viewing at the theatre on Sunday, June 10, noon-5pm and from 9am on the day of the sale prior to the auction commencing at noon. The flowers will not be available to view at Hansons London’s Hampton Court Village office. For further details, email [email protected] or call 020 8979 7954.
Charles Hanson will be holding a talk prior to the auction commencing titled 'A Blooming Find' - From 6pm-6.30pm.
RSVP to Sue Haswell 020 8979 7954