We have now come as far as number twenty four in our count down of Fabergé's Imperial Easter Eggs! This one, from 1901, is called the "Gatchina Palace Egg"!
This gold egg is covered in opalescent white enamel over a guilloche ground. Under the enamel delicate bows and flowers are painted in green and gold, pink and red. The egg is then divided into twelve panels by lines of pearls. At either end sits portrait diamonds, under which a monogram and the year of creation probably were placed at first. These have now been removed though.
When opened up the egg reveals the surprise - a miniature replica of the Gatchina Palace, the Dowager Empress' principal residence outside St. Petersburg. The miniature is fixed inside the egg, and can not be removed from it.
The replica was made by Faberge's work-master, Mikhail Perkhin, and is so detailed you can see details such as cannons, a flag, a statue of Tsar Paul I (1754-1801), parterres and trees.
The palace at Gatchina started to be built in 1766, when Catherine II (Catherine the Great) decided she wanted to build a palace for her lover, Grigori Orlov, who helped her to the throne after a coup in which Catherine's husband, Peter III, was killed. After Orlov died Catherine bought the palace from his heirs and gave it to her son, Paul Petrovich.
In 1920 the "Gatchina Palace Egg" was in the possession of former Gatchina Palace employee Alexander Polotsov. How he acquired the egg is not known, but Polotsov later started an antique shop in Paris and sold the egg in 1930. Now it can be seen at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, where it has been on permanent display since 1952.