Amidst the whirl of parties, holidays, and country house weekends, Mrs Greville and her friends bought each other (or re-gifted) exquisite little treasures.
Fabergé creations, antique enamel boxes and jewellery passed between them. ‘So generous’, Mrs Greville reputedly used to say.
Mrs Greville kept some particularly personal objects in her bedroom, but most were artfully laid out or displayed for guests to see and talk about, as signifiers of intimacy and influence with the rich and powerful.
The House of Fabergé
The House of Fabergé, goldsmith to the Russian Imperial court, opened their only foreign branch in London in 1903. It became a favourite haunt of the British royal court. Mrs Greville made purchases there no fewer than thirty-one times, including a carving of ‘Caesar’, King Edward VII’s wire fox terrier, which she gave to Queen Alexandra after the King’s death.
Mrs Greville’s Fabergé egg
The Fabergé egg is actually a bibelot, a small decorative object to be admired for its craftsmanship. It is made from polished rhodonite, a mineral that can range in colour from pink to deep red. The egg opens horizontally, and is decorated with a rose-cut diamond-set snowflake-hinged clasp. It is decorated with frosty icicles, which appear to be receding, making way for spring. It retains its original velvet- and satin-lined case.
This frog was a gift to Mrs Greville from Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia (1861-1929), who purchased it in London in December 1913 for £14, 15s (approximately £2,000 in today’s terms).