Established in 1842, the firm of Peter Carl Fabergé became the official goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court in 1884. Best known for creating the ornate and intricately designed Imperial Easter Eggs gifted amongst members of the last Romanov Imperial family, the House of Fabergé was the most prestigious manufacturer of luxury goods in Russia in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Although the firm is better known for its jewellery, it also produced a wide range of luxurious silverware from the Moscow branch.
This silver tea set is decorated with a cracked eggshell appearance in imitation of craquelure on lacquered objects and paintings, where a system of cracks appear on the surface. Often used for religious icons, lacquer was used in Russia since the 18th century, influenced by Chinese originals, and widely used to decorate boxes and panels made of wood and papier-mâché. This Asian influence on the design can also be seen in the style of the handles of this set, modelled as bamboo tied into shape with rope. The fascination for trompe l’oeil, or fooling the eye, in Russia during the 19th century is evident on many objet d’art produced by Fabergé, as well as other Russian workshops, and would have been considered to add interest and texture to the pieces, and in some cases, a source of humour.