Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

A man wearing only a pickle barrel is supporting the US Capitol

True to President Reagan’s vision of a shining city on the hill, this new Fabergé egg commissioned by Congress celebrates the symbiotic relationship between government and the citizenry, thanks to whose selfless sacrifices this glorious institution has flourished over so many years.

The Shining City on the Hill has never looked so bright
Resplendent in magnificence, brilliance and might
A tall proud city built on rocks stronger than the ocean
Symbolic of our leaders’ noble devotion
I’ve never seen so many tourists gawk in utter awe
At this hallowed monument to our nation’s law
I never saw that wooden suit that you’re wearing
I have been blind
Citizen in the Red

After the fanfare and celebratory atmosphere wound down in the wake of the country’s landmark second inauguration, Congress saw fit to commission a piece of commemorative art that would celebrate their accomplishments and their vision for the future of America.

Although no one conceded much admiration for the Romanovs, several prominent congressional leaders were mesmerized by the elegance and detail of the famed jeweled Fabergé Eggs that were produced for Czar Alexander III and later Czar Nicholas II, as symbols of the power and wealth of imperial Russia. They decided to commission an egg for the government of the United States.

Congressional staffers were instructed to contact the US Embassy in Switzerland to find Deepak Fabergé, one the few remaining descendants of Russian Imperial Jeweler Carl Fabergé who had been rumored to still be producing jeweled eggs in his attic workshop in Lausanne. As soon as he was located, an Air Force C-32 transport plane was dispatched to Geneva in short order to pick up Fabergé and spirit him off to Washington, DC.

After a few formalities and several bottles of scotch, a select Congressional subcommittee instructed Fabergé to produce an egg for display in the Capitol rotunda that would glorify the seat of power that has made so much progress possible and also convey the nation’s appreciation for all the support and sacrifice on the part of the citizenry. They told Fabergé that money was not a concern and to produce as elegant a piece as he could conceive.

It was a tradition in the Fabergé family of jewelers that each egg would contain a surprise inside, and not even the recipient, however prominent an individual, was to know the contents of the egg in advance of its delivery.

After Fabergé returned to his atelier in Lausanne to begin work, the committee members waited in anxious anticipation of the delivery of the egg. What surprise might this new egg contain? Jobs? Health Care? A balanced budget?

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