This superb and very rare Imperial presentation Easter egg with cipher of Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Alexander III, mother of Nicholas II) is painted on both sides with two-tone gold cipher Cyrillic ‘МФ’ beneath the Russian princely crown on a cobalt blue ground. The two openings (at the top and under the base) are embellished with interlaced Old Russian-style gilded designs.
Green and yellow gold decorations of the egg are partially etched and raised with mastic for extra texture. The green gold is left matt, the yellow gold is polished.
Height 4 1/2 in. (11 cm).
The egg was made at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in either 1882 or 1883. Alexander III and his wife Maria ruled since 1881 but were crowned in 1883. That explains the appearance of the Princely (not Imperial) crown above the cipher. It is a very rare early type of Imperial presentation monogrammed eggs. An identical egg is published in Russian Porcelain Easter Eggs by Tamara Kudriavtseva and Harold A. Whitbeck, page 36, No. 3.
Condition: a hairline arc-shaped crack goes from one of the crowns into the upper ornament and slightly further down into the field. Otherwise the egg is in excellent condition with intact gilding.