Statuette of a Sailor (Primary Title)

Fabergé firm, Russian, 1842 - 1917 (Manufacturer)

ca. 1900
milky quartz, aventurine, onyx or chalcedony, lapis lazuli, sapphires, gold
Russia,St. Petersburg,
Overall: 4 3/4 × 2 3/8 × 1 1/4 in. (12.07 × 6.03 × 3.18 cm)

Only about fifty hardstone human figures carved by the Fabergé firm are known today. This sailor figure is made of several different hardstones. His face and hands are made of aventurine, and his eyes are sapphires. A milky quartz uniform, lapis lazuli tie and cap band, and onyx or chalcedony shoes complete the small figure. The cap’s tally, or ribbon band, has a gilt inscription that reads Zarnitsa in Cyrillic, which means “summer lightning.” This name links the figure to an imperial yacht once captained by Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, the youngest brother of Tsar Nicholas II.

Records from Fabergé’s London store show that this sculpture, which was carved in St. Petersburg, was sold for £53 in 1913 to “Mme. Brassow (Natalia Sheremet’evskaia), who had married the grand duke in 1912 against the express orders of the tsar. The new owners returned to St. Petersburg and likely took this figure with them. It did not surface again until 1937 when the sailor was included in a Fabergé exhibition organized by the art dealer and collector Armand Hammer.

Inscription: ZARNITSA
Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Fabergé Revealed, Palace Museum, Beijing, China, April 16 - July 17, 2016

Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, June 20 – September 27, 2015

Fabergé Revealed, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 14, 2014 - May 25, 2015

Fabulous Fabergé, Jeweler to the Czars, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, June 14 - October 12, 2014

Fabergé Revealed, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, June 22 - September 29, 2013

Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, Detroit Institute of Art, October 14, 2012 - January 21, 2013

Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection of Fabergé, coinciding with Fabergé in America, Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 12 - April 18, 1996, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, May 25 - July 28, 1996, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, August 24 - November 10, 1996, New Orleans Museum of Art, December 7, 1996 - February 8, 1997, Cleveland Museum of Art, March 12 - May 11, 1997

Collector of the Year, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, February 6 - March 13, 1983.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.