“Why Not the Best?”
Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The same might be said for Easter Eggs, but not the hens’ eggs you and I once decorated as kids by dipping them into colored food dyes under Mom’s supervision at the kitchen table. No doubt those Easter Eggs have their place, a bit of whimsy for the kids, especially the very young, but to really come up with something that befits Churchill’s description of Russia, one must go back to the glories created by jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Tsars, Alexander III and Nicholas II.
The first of these was commissioned by Alexander III in 1885. Because Easter was the most important day of the year for Nineteenth Century Russian Orthodox Christians, he decided to give the Tsarina an Easter egg. Being a Tsar, he could naturally provide more for his wife than the traditional Easter Eggs, more even than those that were dyed red and elaborately decorated to commemorate the day. I mean, face it, no matter how elaborately those eggs may be decorated, they are still eggs. The ones we decorated as kids had to be consumed rather soon after completion, if one did want the odor. Later, I learned that there are people who poke pinholes into either end of an egg and carefully blow out the entire contents of the egg. The resulting empty shell is then elaborately decorated. Some years back my mother gave me one of these, a souvenir of her European vacation. I had it a number of years until the inevitable breakage occurred. Alexander could naturally afford something a bit more permanent, hence the commission for Fabergé.
The first of these was crafted from gold and was so like the item it represented that it became known as the Hen Egg. With its opaque, white, vitreous enamel, it looked at first blush like nothing more than an egg. Twisting it open, one found a matte-finished yolk of yellow gold. The yolk also opened, and inside it was a gold hen with ruby eyes. The hen’s tail feathers were hinged, and when one pressed the lever, there was a gold and diamond replica of the imperial crown. As a final bit of showmanship—or artistry, if you prefer—a tiny ruby pendant was secreted inside the miniature crown. The whole was completed with a necklace chain so the Czarina could wear her egg as a pendant.
The gift was such a smash hit with the Tsarina that the Tsar appointed Fabergé “goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown” and commissioned another for the following year, which was another sensation. Thereafter the Tsar had a standing commission for one of these Easter eggs every year. Fabergé was given free rein in the design of these eggs, the only requirement being that they contain a surprise of some sort. When Alexander III passed to glory, his son Nicholas II went the Old Man one better by commissioning a yearly Easter egg for both wife and mother, a commission that ended only with the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Of course, nowadays only a very few of us would be able to afford something as fabulous as these creations, but then again, how many of us are Tsars? But for all of the elegance and sheer opulence of these fabulous creations, still, one does little more than put them on a shelf, to be admired but not touched. That brings me to a luxury item that is both opulent and utilitarian, namely the faucet collection from THG Paris, special emphasis today on some of the faucets they’ve created over the years that can be fairly said to have been inspired by the fabulous Fabergé Easter eggs of yore.
My personal favorite is the Vogue faucet that tops this blog. It’s part of the Prestige Collection and features a veritable plethora of gem stone colors, including Amethyst, Blue Lapiz Lazuli, Red Jasper, Brown Tiger Eye and Black Onyx. The second one I’ve shown here is Panthere, which, as its name suggests, features bas relief carvings of panthers on oval eggs of black crystal. The Marquisse features Bernardaud porcelain, a brand more commonly known for their elegant chinaware. THG Paris has done considerably more than utilize that porcelain, though. They’ve celebrated it. It’s ringed with a most dignified bay leaf garland, and the handle décor can be obtained in either platinum or gold. Finally, there is the Cheverny which looks for all the world like it came from the Fabergé studio. One almost expects to unscrew the top and discover a miniature steam engine of the type used on the Trans-Siberian Express.
But in the end, an expensive toy, however ultra-expensive it may be, is still just a toy. These faucets are considerably less expensive that the fabulous Fabergé eggs that inspired them, and they have a function, a number of functions, actually. Faucets are obviously utilitarian items, but they need not look stodgy, as THG Paris has clearly shown, not only in these collections, but in their entire body of work. They have made it a point to actively seek out the most creative minds in the industry, and it shows. But beyond the sheer beauty of what they’ve created here, there is the utter joy of encountering an object like this on a daily basis. I’ve often said that you are in bathrooms and kitchens every day of your life, and you touch the contents of those rooms every day. Why not touch the best? With THG Paris you can.
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