A superb and very rare Imperial presentation Easter egg with cipher of Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Alexander III), painted on both sides with two-color gold cipher Cyrillic 'MF' beneath the Russian princely crown on a cobalt blue ground. Interlaced Russian-style gilded ornament at the openings. Height 4 1/2 in. (11 cm).
The gilding is in exceptional condition.
The egg was made at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in either 1882 or 1883. Alexander III and his wife Maria ruled since 1881 but were crowned in 1883. That explains the appearance of the Princely (not Imperial) crown above the cipher. An egg of similar design but with the Imperial crown, was recently sold at this web site. It is a very rare early type of Imperial presentation monogrammed eggs. An identical egg is published in "Russian Porcelain Easter Eggs" by Tamara Kudriavtseva and Harold A. Whitbeck, page 36, No. 3.
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Green and yellow gold decorations are partially etched and raised with mastic for extra texture. The green gold is left matt, the yellow gold is polished.
A hairline arc-shaped crack goes from one of the crowns into the upper ornament and slightly further down into the field. Otherwise the egg is in exceptional condition.
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