Thursday, 31 January 2008

All that glitters is not gold

Catherine Palace (Tsarskoye Selo), St. Petersburg

Photograph of the original Amber Room

"The Amber Room"
Photographs of the re-created Amber Room.

Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701. It was originally installed at Charlottenburg Palace, home of Friedrich I, the first King of Prussia. The room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. Peter the Great admired the room on a visit, and in 1716 the King of Prussia—then Frederick William I—presented it to Peter the Great as a gift, cementing a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden.

The Amber Room was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the Winter House in St. Petersburg as a part of a European art collection. In 1755, Czarina Elizabeth (who, ironically sought to rid Russia of all things German) ordered the room to be moved to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, named Tsarskoye Selo, or "Czar's Village." Italian designer Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli redesigned the room to fit into its new, larger space using additional amber shipped from Berlin.

Lost since 1941, the reconstruction of the replica room from black and white photographs began in 1979 at Tsarskoye Selo and was completed 25 years later. Dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the new room marked the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg in a unifying ceremony that echoed the peaceful sentiment behind the original.

Now playing: Blancmange - Living On the Ceiling
via FoxyTunes


Mrs. Blandings said...

Truly amazing. And today we make stairs with pieces of wood on either side of the runner to save on the cost. Imagine.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

It's almost too much to look at, isn't it? Like being trapped in a toffee. (Seriously, I love how overpowering it is.)

Suzy said...

I've been there...its stunning!

mamacita said...

True story: I took my honeymoon in beautful Jackson, Mississippi because they had an exhibition of these recreated rooms from Tsarskoye Selo. It was a stunning exhibit. My husband loved it, too.

I am the only person I know who went to Jackson, Mississippi on her honeymoon.

Cote de Texas said...

I recently saw a documentary on the recreation of these rooms and I just cant remember where I saw it, I mean what channel it was on. Maybe the History channel? anyone else see that documentary?