About Amanda

Amanda is responsible for TEKS based curriculum development as well as leading the teams tasked with marketing, scheduling, and hosting field trips from the 53 area school districts that regularly visit the museum. She also helps create staff development classes for educators seeking to meet state requirements for their teacher or gifted and talented certifications. Amanda taught Texas and U.S. History for over seven years in Fort Bend ISD. Amanda has a degree in History from the University of Texas at Austin.

Was Peter Carl Fabergé the ultimate craftsmen or the ultimate copycat?

Every artist seeks inspiration, and this was certainly true for Carl Fabergé. After attending the Fabergé Symposium in January of this year and listening to his great-granddaughter, Tatiana Fabergé, speak, I was initially surprised by what she was showing us. However, once I considered the artist that was Fabergé, her presentation came into clear focus.

Tatiana presented various screen shots of objects found in Dresden, Germany, as well as work completed by Fabergé. What was so shocking, you might ask? It was the eerie similarities of older, famous items to renowned Fabergé pieces. These works of art, side by side, were almost identical. Although to be fair (or maybe a bit biased) the Fabergé pieces were just a little more beautiful.

My first shocking thought was that Fabergé might have made a job out of creating replicas. However, after continued study of the objects in the presentation, I began to see what was unique to Fabergé. It became evident that he did not steal designs; he was inspired by them and created something even more beautiful and, in some cases, more functional. Like any good artist, Fabergé sought inspiration outside of his own sphere, using what he found to create stunning, unique pieces.

Tatiana went on to explain that her great-grandfather had been sent around the world to study the best types of jewelry-making and goldsmithing. However, it was when his family moved to Dresden that Fabergé would find significant inspiration. The city had treasures of baroque art that could stir the imagination of a young artist. One piece Fabergé studied that is of interest to us in particular was a cup made of rhinoceros horn, held by an oriental figure. The Houston Museum of Natural Science, with gratitude to the McFerrin Collection, has the honor of displaying the object that was created from this inspiration.

Faberge's Dresden Inspiration

This particular statuette, a near replica, is made of nephrite and smoked topaz with pearls and small precious stones. It was shown in the 1893 Fabergé Moscow catalog and sold for 4,000 rubles, the same amount the Russian Royal Family paid for a single Imperial Easter Egg. It is uniquely Fabergé, yet German baroque art as well.

Faberge's Dresden Inspiration

Visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision to see this object among others that Fabergé sought to create in his own style.

How the Medici family influenced Peter Carl Fabergé: Our exquisitely entwined exhibits

If you’re a Fabergé enthusiast, then you’ll know that seeing Gems of the Medici before it closes Sunday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is a MUST! For those of you who have a passing knowledge of Fabergé, let me give you the scoop:

When Peter Carl Fabergé was born, it was already known, by his father, that he would become a jewelry maker. August Fabergé had started a relatively small jewelry enterprise that he hoped his sons would take over.

As Carl grew into a young man, he was sent across Europe to learn the art of goldsmithing. While this was very interesting to Carl, he found one of his real passions in the art of hardstone carving. While visiting Florence, Italy, Carl stopped at several workshops that specialized in hardstone carvings — workshops originally founded by the Medici patriarchs.

Peter Carl Faberge, via Wikimedia Commons

The Medici were insistent that Florence become the Mecca of the art world, which included stone and precious gem work. They became patrons of artisans and began workshops for others to practice their craft and learn the essentials of artistry. The Medici went as far as providing their own collection of cameos and hardstone carvings for young artists to study and replicate.

Two centuries later, these workshops were still functioning as they had been originally intended. Carl Fabergé was just one of many who took advantage of what was offered and learned techniques that would eventually be seen in his jewelry. Carl used what he learned at the Medici-founded workshops to turn simple jewelry and hardstones into works of art that were not only functional, in some cases, but admired and desired.

Visit Gems of the Medici at the Houston Museum of Natural Science before it closes this Sunday, March 31 and see the works of art that inspired Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision!

Find out if you’re a Fabergénius here: This time with answers

Are you an expert in enameling? An authority on artistry? Find out the answers to our quiz below and then learn more with a visit to our Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision exhibit!

Faberge egg

1. What “surprise” was inside the Imperial Egg created by Fabergé?
a. Hen
b. Elephant
c. Clock pendant
d. Picture frame

2. Carl Fabergé was:
a. French
b. German
c. Russian (his ethnicity is Danish/French, but Carl Fabergé was born in Russia.)
d. British

3. Fabergé sold his items through:
a. Retail stores in Russia
b. Retail store in London
c. By mail order
d. All of the above

4. Where did Fabergé prefer to obtain his raw materials for his pieces?
a. China
b. France
c. Russia
d. South America

5. What do we call a Fabergé sold to deceive the buyer?
a. Fake
b. Fauxberge
c. Counterfeit
d. Phony

6. How many items did the Fabergé Company produce?
a. 150,000 (approximately)
b. Less than 1,000
c. 10,000
d. Approximately 1,000,000

7. Which of the following items did Fabergé make?
a. Obsidian Sea Lion
b. Gherkin (pickle) sent jar
c. Gum pot
d. All the above (all on display in our exhibit)

8. What does the “Bonbonniére” mean?
a. Egg
b. Cigarette Holder
c. Candy Box
d. Scent Bottle

9. Which of the following techniques were used by Fabergé?
a. Cloisonné
b. Enameling
c. Guilloché
d. All of the above

10. Who of the follow did NOT produce items for the Fabergé Company?
a. Workmasters
b. Contracted Artists
c. Women
d. Cartier

11. Fabergé’s Flower Studies were important to Russians because…
a. It reminded them of their childhood
b. Russia was a major exporter of lilies
c. It reminded them of the spring to come
d. It had important herbal qualities

12. Which of the following did Fabergé NOT produce items for?
a. The Imperial (Romanov) Family
b. The Russian Military during World War I
c. The Forbes Family (The Forbes family acquired Fabergé pieces several years after the house of Fabergé closed.)
d. The Nobel Family

13. Which modern toy represents Fabergé’s guilloché technique?
a. Etch-a-Sketch®
b. Lite Brite®
c. Spirograph ®
d. None of the above

14. On which holiday were the Imperial Eggs given to the Tsarina?
a. Christmas
b. Birthday
c. Thanksgiving
d. Easter

15. Which of the following did Fabergé produce?
a. Circus Hippo
b. Swinging Parrot
c. Sea Lion on a Rock
d. All of the above (and all on display in our exhibit)

16. What does a Vesta Case hold?
a. Cigarettes
b. Matches
c. Headache tablets
d. Bullets

17. What was the purpose of the bell push?
a. To ring for a servant
b. To light the furnace
c. To announce your presence
d. None of the above

18. Which famous movie star is in one of the Fabergé picture frames at HMNS?
a. Lucille Ball
b. Michael Jackson
c. Bill Gates
d. Liz Taylor (on display in our exhibit) 

19. Which of the follow Fabergé items could be found in an office?
a. Ruler
b. Pencil holder
c. Stamp holder
d. All of the above (all in our exhibit) 

20. Which of the following precious gems were used by Fabergé?
a. Diamonds
b. Sapphires
c. Rubies
d. All of the above

Are you a Fabergenius? Tell us how you did!

Are you a Fabergénius? Take this quiz and find out!

Are you an expert in enameling? An authority on artistry? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of all things Fabergé, and then learn more with a visit to our Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision exhibit!

Faberge egg

1. What “surprise” was inside the Imperial Egg created by Fabergé?
a.    Hen
b.    Elephant
c.    Clock pendant
d.    Picture frame

2. Carl Fabergé was:
a.    French
b.    German
c.    Russian
d.    British

3. Fabergé sold his items through:
a.    Retail stores in Russia
b.    Retail store in London
c.    By mail order
d.    All of the above

4. Where did Fabergé prefer to obtain his raw materials for his pieces?
a. China
b. France
c. Russia
d. South America

5. What do we call a Fabergé sold to deceive the buyer?
a. Fake
b. Fauxberge
c. Counterfeit
d. Phony

6. How many items did the Fabergé Company produce?
a. 150,000
b. Less than 1,000
c. 10,000
d. Approximately 1,000,000

7. Which of the following items did Fabergé make?
a. Obsidian Sea Lion
b. Gherkin (pickle) sent jar
c. Gum pot
d. All the above

8. What does the “Bonbonniére” mean?
a. Egg
b. Cigarette Holder
c. Candy Box
d. Scent Bottle

9. Which of the following techniques were used by Fabergé?
a. Cloisonné
b. Enameling
c. Guilloché
d. All of the above

10. Who of the follow did NOT produce items for the Fabergé Company?
a. Workmasters
b. Contracted Artists
c. Women
d. Cartier

11. Fabergé’s Flower Studies were important to Russians because…
a. It reminded them of their childhood
b. Russia was a major exporter of lilies
c. It reminded them of the spring to come
d. It had important herbal qualities

12. Which of the following did Fabergé NOT produce items for?
a. The Imperial (Romanov) Family
b. The Russian Military during World War I
c. The Forbes Family
d. The Nobel Family

13. Which modern toy represents Fabergé’s guilloché technique?
a. Etch-a-Sketch®
b. Lite Brite®
c. Spirograph ®
d. None of the above

14. On which holiday were the Imperial Eggs given to the Tsarina?
a. Christmas
b. Birthday
c. Thanksgiving
d.  Easter

15. Which of the following did Fabergé produce?
a. Circus Hippo
b. Swinging Parrot
c. Sea Lion on a Rock
d. All of the above

16. What does a Vesta Case hold?
a. Cigarettes
b. Matches
c. Headache tablets
d. Bullets

17. What was the purpose of the bell push?
a. To ring for a servant
b. To light the furnace
c. To announce your presence
d. None of the above

18. Which famous movie star is in one of the Fabergé picture frames at HMNS?
a. Lucille Ball
b. Michael Jackson
c. Bill Gates
d. Liz Taylor

19. Which of the follow Fabergé items could be found in an office?
a. Ruler
b. Pencil holder
c. Stamp holder
d. All of the above

20. Which of the following precious gems were used by Fabergé?
a. Diamonds
b. Sapphires
c. Rubies
d. All of the above

Are you a Fabergenius? Find out tomorrow when we post answers to today’s trivia!