The Russian connection: Faberg

NEW ORLEANS – M.S. Rau Antiques announces its recent discovery and acquisition of an extremely rare sterling silver flatware service by the legendary Fabergé. This 154-piece service for 18 by the most revered name in luxury was produced by the firm’s Moscow workshop, a city that was long considered the center of Russian silver and goldsmithing. As one of the only complete silver services to survive the Communist Revolution of 1917, this set is an important piece of Russian history and of Russia’s burgeoning art market.

Bill Rau, the third-generation owner of M.S. Rau Antiques, says that sets like this come along once in a lifetime. “Silver services would have been destroyed indiscriminately after the Russian revolution. That this set survived is remarkable,” he says.

Surviving pieces of Fabergé silver are becoming rarer, with the few examples in existence representing the epitome of the Russian decorative arts. A substantial amount of the firm’s work was melted down to mint silver ingots and rubles during the political unrest that plagued Russia in the early part of the 20th century. What remains today are primarily objects of function that found their way to the West. With its elegant Louis XIV motif and gold gilt accents, this service is arguably one of the finest sets of silver ever created by Fabergé’s master artisans.

Today, the Russian art market is experiencing a surge thanks to newfound interest in Russian artistic history throughout the world, and Fabergé is at its center. According to Christie’s International, Russian art, from contemporary fine art to antiques such as rare silver and Imperial and Soviet porcelain, is one of the fastest growing and most exciting areas of the international art market. In fact, the auction house set a record for sales in Russian art in November 2007, with sales totals exceeding $80 million. There are very few Russian silver items that don’t command high prices, and to find a complete, pre-Revolutionary service such as this is highly significant. In fact, Fabergé pieces such as the Rothschild egg, which was sold by Christie’s in November 2007 for $18.5 million, continue to reach new levels of interest.

M.S. Rau Antiques, a New Orleans landmark, offers collections of rare antiques, fine art and jewelry, featuring silver by Paul Storr and Paul Revere, works by artists including Monet and Pissarro, and pieces by makers such as Fabergé and Tiffany, among countless others.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5:15 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information call 800-544-9440 or visit www.rauantiques.com.

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Complete sterling silver flatware service by Faberg

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