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The History of Limoges Porcelain Easter Eggs

I've been an online writer for nine years. I live in Limousin, France, and have fully immersed myself in the culture and food of the region.

Peter, the Great Egg, is currently located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, in the United States.

Peter, the Great Egg, is currently located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, in the United States.

Limoges Porcelain Easter Eggs Make Perfect Easter Gifts

A Limoges porcelain egg is the perfect Easter gift. These eggs are really Limoges porcelain boxes in the form of an egg and can be used as a wonderful container for another gift, a gift within a gift. They were often used to house perfume or jewelry.

They are small but exquisite, delicate but strong, pretty, and romantic, yet these eggs symbolize Easter. Not only are they lovely objects, but these Limoges boxes are highly collectible, so you'll be making an investment as well as buying a gift.

Limoges boxes in the shape of eggs are linked to Fabergé eggs. Why not carry that tradition on a little longer?

Porcelain Eggs from Fabergé

The link between Fabergé and eggs goes back to the 19th century when Czar Alexander III commissioned the Russian jewelers to make an Easter Egg as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria. The Czar ordered another egg the following year and from 1887 onwards. The Imperial Easter Eggs became more elaborately decorated, and each one would contain a surprise object.

The Fabergé story really begins in 1842 when Gustav Fabergé opened a jewelry shop in St. Petersburg’s fashionable Bolshaia Morskaia area. Shortly afterward, in 1846, the Faberges had a son, Peter Carl Fabergé, popularly known as Carl Fabergé.

According to the Fabergé Family tradition, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take. It was the work of the French porcelain artists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries who produced the original boxes that inspired Fabergé.

There are two types of Limoges porcelain eggs (at least), boxes decorated with eggs and boxes in the shape of eggs.

I came across one interesting fact in the book by Edmund de Waal, The Hare With Amber Eyes. A Fabergé egg commissioned by Beatrice Ephrussi Rothschild, an ancestor of de Waal, brought the highest price ever at auction for a Russian object. It was gold and pink with a diamond-studded cockerel hidden inside.

Porcelain Boxes Decorated With Fabergé Eggs

The link between Fabergé and Limoges continued when Fabergé commissioned porcelain from the city's factories. Today, you can buy Limoges porcelain boxes such as The Imperial Porcelain Box Collection, made by La Seynie and decorated with transfers of eggs designed by Fabergé.

Porcelain eggs from La Vie en Rose Porcelain factory shop, Saint Junien, Limousin, France

Porcelain eggs from La Vie en Rose Porcelain factory shop, Saint Junien, Limousin, France

Porcelain Boxes in the Form of an Egg

Other porcelain boxes were made in the form of a Fabergé egg and decorated in Fabergé style; DuBarry is only one of a very long list of porcelain producers in the area. This is an excellent example of the uniting of two great artistic traditions.

The pretty eggs illustrate the range, beauty, and ingenuity utilized in the design and execution of porcelain eggs. The little "surprise" hidden in many of these boxes varies, and you can see perfume boxes, Easter chicks, and thimbles hidden in some of these.

Limoges Boxes

The porcelain industry in Limoges produces a wide range of products, whole dinner services, beautiful lamps, and elegant vases. Still, perhaps the most collectable because of their variety and size is the little Limoges box. These porcelain boxes became fashionable when Josephine, the wife of Napoleon, started to collect them.

The most powerful families in Europe picked up the fashion, and today the Limoges jewel boxes are collected worldwide. What better gift for any occasion than one of these exquisite boxes. And if you're thinking about giving one as an Easter gift, then you're in good company!

Porcelain Museum Limoges 'Adrien Dubouch'

Porcelain Museum Limoges 'Adrien Dubouch'

The City of Limousin

What could be a more charming Easter gift than a hand-painted egg made from Limoges porcelain? Limoges is an ancient city situated in the SW of France and is the capital of Limousin, a little-known and therefore unexploited area deep in the heart of rural France. If you have heard of Limousin, it will probably be for its famous beef cattle or for its possibly even more renowned porcelain. In the past, it was called "The Red City" because the kilns burned all night, and the flames painted the skies red.

Today there is still a thriving trade in porcelain. There are many lovely little shops in Limoges itself, or factory shops and large outlets both within the city and around it. If you love Limoges Porcelain, a shopping trip to Limousin is a must!

If you can't manage a trip here, you can buy genuine Limoges porcelain online, but beware, there are imitations. Make sure you're buying the real thing to ensure excellent quality.

The National Museum of Porcelain, Limoges

The Musée national Adrien Dubouché is conveniently situated near the centre of Limoges in Place Winston Churchill. It's a beautiful building in its own right and houses a huge collection of Limoges ceramics and porcelain. Founded in 1845, with the arrival of Adrien Dubouché in 1852, the museum was able to grow to influence and support the porcelain industry in Limoges.

When you visit, you'll see displays of techniques and objects from the four major families of ceramics: pottery, faience, stoneware, and porcelain. It devotes two large sections to Limoges porcelain, China porcelain and a remarkable glass collection from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.

The Porcelain Industry in Limoges Today

At the turn of the century, there were 35 porcelain works in Limoges with an annual production of up to 3,000 firings, and that industry continues today, but perhaps not on the same scale.

You can visit factories, watch the porcelain being made, and buy porcelain from one of the many boutiques and factory shops in and around Limoges. If you want to take a walk into the past, you can visit one of the ancient kilns at Casseaux on the banks of the river Vienne in Limoges. The kiln is spectacular, and there is an interesting little video and exhibition to see.

Comments

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 21, 2015:

Look forward to seeing you in Limoges, Rangoon House. See the porcelain box eggs for yourself!

AJ from Australia on April 08, 2015:

These Limoges Easter Eggs are absolutely beautiful. Definitely on my wish list, along with a trip to Limousin.

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 28, 2012:

Many thanks for visiting, Heidi. Nice to see you on HubPages - must make a list of people who do both HubPages and Squidoo.

Heidi Brault on March 28, 2012:

Very nice page Barbara!

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on May 21, 2011:

jamterrell, I'd love to hear more about your collections. I still only have a couple left in the house by the previous occupant but I'm keen to start a real collection now.

jamterrell on May 20, 2011:

I made a decision of my self, That are great collections.

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 24, 2011:

Hi, RedElf - as you see I don't even try. Too many! On top of that people have different names for different sites, plus their own 'real' name. No need, therefore, Elle, for blushes. (Are you one of the Kaffee Klatch Gals?)

RedElf from Canada on March 24, 2011:

Of course I will actually have to remember what your name is (blushes). To much HubHopping in one session is my only excuse :( Mea culpa

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 24, 2011:

crystolite, Thx so much for the feedback; pleased you enjoyed the article.

Emma from Houston TX on March 24, 2011:

Interesting hub.Thanks for sharing.

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 12, 2011:

How wonderful to be on someone's bucket list! Many thanks, RedElf, for your kind comments, and I'm so much looking forward to meeting you - hope you make that wish list come true.

RedElf from Canada on March 11, 2011:

I have a lovely china egg (hinged, egg-shaped china box) from England. Such pretty things - love the Limoges eggs. I have started saving, Nancy - a holiday at your establishment is now on my bucket list.

Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on March 10, 2011:

dahoglund, your article, (see above), did a good job of outlining some in your article about Easter egg custom and folklore. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on March 10, 2011:

Interesting how many different traditions have decorated eggs of one sort or another.