Peter Carl Fabergé, a talented entrepreneur, transformed his family's goldsmithing and retail jewelry business into the internationally famed House of Fabergé. The firm’s success was established in 1885, when Fabergé was appointed goldsmith to the imperial family and thereafter secured numerous important commissions from Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II. Fabergé's worldwide acclaim is due mainly to the series of enameled and jeweled imperial Easter eggs it created between 1884 and 1916. However, the company also produced dinner services, tea services, jewelry, hardstone figurines, and an impressive variety of novelty items including cigarette cases, picture frames, cane handles, seals, opera glasses, and snuff boxes.
Fabergé directed the firm’s artistic and commercial concerns while employing workmasters to oversee design and production. This cameo box was designed by one of Fabergé’s head workmasters, Henrik Wigström. Every element of its construction is attentively integrated. The oval shell cameo, surrounded by rose diamonds, portrays supplicants kneeling before Alexander the Great. The gray enamel is executed in the guilloché technique, a method of fusing translucent enamels over gold or silver patterned by hand or machine. Fabergé revived and popularized this technique, although numerous competitors also produced guilloché enamels.
Fabergé is best known for its Russian Imperial Easter Eggs commissioned by Alexander III. Every year from 1884 to 1916, he commissioned an egg as a gift to his wife at Easter. After Alexander's death, his son Nicholas II continued the tradition, commissioning two eggs from the firm, one for his mother and one for his wife. Aside from his famous Easter Eggs, Fabergé produced a variety of boxes and containers as presentation pieces. This cameo box is one of the finest of these pieces.