A Russian Imperial two-color gold and diamond-set enamel presentation ring

Fabergé, workmaster Michael Perchin, St. Petersburg, ca. 1895

The ring centering a diamond-set crowned cypher of Emperor Nicholas II on a blue enamel ground surrounded by nine old european-cut diamonds, the cypher flanked by four brilliants (two at each side), above an openwork two-color gold and rose-cut diamond intertwined shoulder connecting to a reeded yellow gold shank, the interior engraved with a presentation inscription in Russian, "Vysochajshe pozhalovan' Gen.-Maioru P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovichu" (Awarded by the highest authority to Lieutenant-General P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich); estimated total diamond weight: 5.30 cts.

Ring size: 15 1/4 Total weight: 13.4 dwt.



PROVENANCE:

Presented to P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich by HIM Cabinet
20 December 1897, original cost 940 roubles
Private collection, New York
Estimate $80,000-120,000

Imperial Presentation Rings

Rings bearing the cypher of the Sovereign had been given as personal gifts by Russian monarchs since the late eighteenth century, but their use became more frequent during the nineteenth, when the circumstances surrounding their presentation became codified under the reign of Emperor Nicholas I. While a ring might be presented at any time by the Emperor for services rendered or as a sign of personal favor, extravagant rings of this type were only granted according to the meeting of stringent requirements due to honorable length of service in the Army, the Civil service, or at Court.

This ring, of prodigious size, was executed by Michael Perkhin for Fabergé, and is unique in its form and in the opulent diamond encrusted ornamentation of its design, with a skillfully executed openwork band also ornamented with diamonds, and the interior engraved with the presentation inscription, "Awarded by the highest authority to Lieutenant-General P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich."

This work is a rare survival of the second highest rank of presentation rings, and perhaps the first of this class to be offered at auction. A similar ring, dating from the period of Alexander III, not by Faberge, was exhibited at Peterhof and is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue (cf. Bulanaya, N.B. ; Muzei "Osobaiakladovaia" v Petergofe : k 400-letiiu Doma Romanovykh, Gosarstvennyi khudozhestvenno-arkhitekturnyi dvortsovo-parkovyi muzei-zapovednik v g. Petrodvortse,"Petergof", 2011. fig 25). Another related ring mounted on chrysporase rather than enamel is in the collection of the Hermitage.

According to her book, The Russian Imperial Award System During the Reign of Nicholas II 1894-1917, Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm notes that rings of this type were presented to men who had reached level III on the Russian Imperial Table of Ranks. P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich earned the rank of Lieutenant-General on June 12, 1897 (thus attaining level III) and the ring is noted to have been issued by His Imperial Majesty's Cabinet later that year.


The Recipient

Lieutenant -General Pavel Osipovich Shcherbov-Nefedovich (1847-1918)
Born February 15, 1847, Pavel Osipovich Shcherbov-Nefedovich was from a noble family of the Smolensk region, and served faithfully in the Imperial Army for decades before the Russian Revolution.

Shcherbov-Nefedovich received a military education at the Second Moscow Cadet Corps (1863), the 3rd Alexandrovsky Military School (graduating in 1865, and where he was granted distinction and his name engraved on the school's honorary marble plaques), finally finishing his education at the Mikhailovsky Artillery School in the 26th Artillery Brigade. He finished his education at the prestigious Nikolaevsky Academy of the General Staff in 1874, 1st Class.

His military service record was impressive. P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich joined the service on August 27, 1863, became a lieutenant in 1866, a second Lieutenant of the guard in 1869, a Lieutenant of the guard in 1870, a member of the general Staff in 1873, Captain of the General Staff in 1876, Lieutenant Colonel in 1876, Colonel in 1879, Major General in 1889, Lieutenant-General in 1897 (which the offered lot commemorates), and General of the Infantry in 1906.

Shcherbov-Nefedovich served with distinction in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, and filled a number of important staff positions during his 54-year career. He was also noted as an exceptional teacher, and was on staff as a professor at the Nikolaevsky Academy of the General Staff from 1879 until his final promotion to Honorary Member of the Senior Council of the Academy in 1885.

Highly decorated, Shcherbov-Nefedovich was a knight of the Russian Imperial Order of St. Stanislas (3rd class 1869, 2nd Class 1885, and 1st class 1894), the Order of St. Anna (2nd Class, 1888, 1st class 1896) and St. Vladimir (4th class 1884, 3rd class 1892, 2nd class 1901), the Order of the White Eagle (1903), and the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (1910).

His foreign awards included the Order of the Rising Star of Bokhara (1st class 1893), the Austrian Order of Franz-Josef (1st Class), the Royal Prussian Order of the Crown (1st Class), the Legion d'Honneur Croix du Commandre (1897), and the Order of the Rising Star of Bokhara with Diamonds (1900).

Shcherbov-Nefedovich served until the Russian Revolution. He died in Petrograd on January 9, 1918.

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