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Where is the recreated Amber Room located?

The Amber Room, recreated for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, in the Catherine Palace of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Reserve celebrates its twentieth birthday. For the anniversary, she received an exact VR copy, created with the support of PJSC Gazprom, and a mini-exhibition

What epithets did contemporaries bestow upon this unique interior of the Catherine Palace? The room was called the eighth wonder of the world; Alexander Benois wrote that “The Amber Room is one of the main attractions of the fantastic Tsarskoye Selo Palace.” The mystery of its disappearance still inspires treasure hunters, but the Amber Room has already experienced its main adventure – an amazing revival in the same place and in its former splendor: in 2003, after its reconstruction, it was presented to the public. Now in Tsarskoe Selo they are celebrating this date, for which an exhibition has been prepared, a virtual copy of the room has been prepared, and a special cake has even been invented. Fragment of the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace. Tsarskoe Selo.
Photo: EPA/TASS The history of the birth of a masterpiece of amber carving begins in Prussia: in 1701, the Prussian King Frederick I, during his coronation, received as a gift two amber frames made by masters from Danzig at the end of the 1941th century (they were part of the decoration of the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace until 1705). According to some researchers, it was these frames that gave Charlotte, the wife of Frederick I, the idea of ​​​​creating an interior made of amber. The work was supervised by Johann Friedrich Eosander von Goethe, the queen’s favorite architect. After the death of his wife in 1712, Frederick stopped working and later decided to create an amber gallery in Oranienburg, his mother’s homeland. It was probably there that in 1713 and XNUMX Peter I could see amber interiors that made a strong impression on him. In 1713, Frederick I dies, his son Friedrich Wilhelm I transfers the amber panels to one of his palaces in Berlin and creates the first amber cabinet there, which Peter I receives as a gift in 1717. In Russia, boxes with amber panels were initially stored for several years in the Menshikov Palace, then in one of the buildings in the Summer Garden. And only in 1743, Empress Elizabeth ordered the installation of an “Amber Cabinet according to the best art” in one of the chambers of the third Winter Palace. In 1750, she started building a new residence in Tsarskoe Selo, and the architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli moved the Amber Cabinet there. Fragment of the Amber Room.
Photo: Ruslan Shamukov The room allocated to him turned out to be much more spacious than the original office – its area is 96 square meters. m, ceilings are almost eight meters high. To fill the interior, Rastrelli leaves one wall free of amber (with windows onto the front ground in front of the palace), and makes the upper and lower friezes of the other three walls picturesque, imitating an amber mosaic. The architect decorates the pilasters between the amber panels with tall and narrow mirrors. In 1755, four Florentine stone mosaics appeared in the room, given to Elizabeth by the then Queen of Bohemia, Maria Theresa. To place them in the interior, mirrors are removed from amber frames, and the remaining free space is filled with amber patterns. Later, by order of Catherine II, the lower frieze along three walls will also be made of amber. In fact, according to experts, the area of ​​amber mosaics made by Russian masters by this time increases to almost 20% in relation to the work of European masters. In the 1941th century, various amber crafts, which were collected by all Russian emperors, would appear in the decoration of the room. In this form, the Amber Room survived until 20, and it was this interior that was recreated by masters XNUMX years ago. Fragment of the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace. 1930. Reproduction. The exact date of shooting has not been established. Amber is a very fragile and short-lived material: parts often fell off the oak panels of the walls and broke on the floor, they had to be replaced. The first restoration of the room took place back in 1830 – Russian and European masters were involved in it. At the end of the 1914th century, restoration was carried out by masters of the St. Petersburg lapidary factory, but this work was not completed. The next restoration was scheduled for XNUMX, but the First World War began. Experts planned the next restoration for the summer of 1941. The city of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) was occupied already on September 17, 1941, the German army left it only in January 1944. Over these years, the Nazis completely plundered the former royal residence; the Amber Room was taken to Königsberg, which was later completely destroyed during the offensive of the Soviet army. Its further fate is still unknown: Soviet specialists managed to discover during a lengthy search only a few melted fragments of amber decor and door parts. Dozens of adventurers are still searching for the amber treasure around the world. Catherine Palace in Pushkin. Tourists inspect amber items in the restored Amber Room, which were exhibited here until 1941. 1987. Photo: Nikolay Naumenkov/TASS Photo Chronicle The prominent Soviet and Russian architect and restorer Alexander Kedrinsky, the founder of the St. Petersburg school of restorers, the author of the project to recreate the Amber Room, sought its restoration for many years. And only in 1979, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR decided to return its main treasure to the Catherine Palace. “After the restoration was completed, we often heard from visitors to the Amber Room: this is kitsch, bad taste! – says Iraida Bott, deputy director for scientific work at the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum. “Only illiterate people can say this: Berlin at the beginning of the 1700th century was one of the most authoritative European centers of art, here in XNUMX the third academy of arts opened after Rome and Paris, manufactories and crafts flourished. And all this was reflected in the interiors of the Amber Room. It is not for nothing that Alexander Benois wrote about the inimitable taste of the decorators of the time of Elizabeth, about the magnificent, fabulous ensemble of this hall.” Fragment of the Amber Room.
Photo: Ruslan Shamukov The path from the decision to recreate to the implementation of the plan turned out to be long and winding. The specialists had at their disposal only black and white photographs, color autochrome from 1917, fixed watercolors and about 60 small pieces of amber that had fallen off the oak panels over the decades. No one could say what the smallest details of the decor looked like, much less what shade these elements were. In addition, there was no school of amber crafting in the Soviet Union. There were jewelers who made crafts and jewelry from amber, but beads or mouthpieces are one thing, but to cover several tens of square meters of walls with the finest multi-figure carvings and make sure that amber does not crumble and does not lose its properties – no one has ever faced such a task before I didn’t even install it. For a whole year, the involved jewelers developed techniques and learned on the fly how to sharpen tools in a special way so that the amber would not chip, cut it under a microscope, and avoid dangerous air bubbles that caused the amber to crack. At the request of the special research and production association “Restorer”, chemists from the Technological Institute conducted a study on how heat treatment affects the production of different shades of amber. Fragment of the Amber Room.
Photo: Ruslan Shamukov In 1981, an amber workshop was created on the basis of the NPO “Restavrator”, headed by Alexander Zhuravlev. Under his leadership, craftsmen began to recreate the first amber panels; work continued for almost 20 years. At the final stage of work, the German company Ruhrgas provided enormous financial support. In 1984, stonecutter Boris Igdalov came to the Tsarskoye Selo amber workshop (he has headed it since 1997). “We were faced with the task of recreating four Florentine mosaics that had disappeared along with the amber panels, although we only had black and white photographs at our disposal,” said Boris Igdalov. “We turned to the Italians for help, to the workshop where these mosaics were once made, and they gave us good color photographs from the original paintings. But there were problems with the stone: initially the mosaics were made from multi-colored Maremma flints (Maremma is a historical region of Tuscany), and we had to search for suitable stones throughout the country for many years.” Fragment of the Amber Room.
Photo: Ruslan Shamukov In 1997, a surprise happened: one of the missing Tsarskoye Selo mosaics, “Allegory of Touch and Smell,” was discovered in Germany. By this time, this particular composition had already been recreated by the masters of Igdalov’s brigade. Now both works can be seen and compared between the original and the copy. At the end of May 2003, the grand opening of the recreated Amber Room took place in the Catherine Palace. Now, for the anniversary, viewers can see it not only when visiting the palace, but also in the digital space – with the support of PJSC Gazprom, its exact interactive model was created in virtual reality format. DETAILS
“The Amber Room. VR version”: a project in virtual reality format The VR version of the Amber Room is an accurate interactive model of the world-famous interior of the Catherine Palace in virtual reality format. The project was created with the support of PJSC Gazprom. The content developer was Stereoforma. Special equipment allows you to examine the interior of the Amber Room in the smallest detail, zoom in on the finishing elements, and study Florentine mosaics and carvings. In the virtual space, you can touch and examine exhibits, as well as get acquainted with the history of the interior, techniques and materials. The existence of a virtual copy of the Amber Room has given new opportunities to residents of other regions of Russia. In May 2022, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, as part of the exhibition “Peter I. The Beginning of the Amber Road” (organized by the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum of Art), virtual reality helmets equipped with project content went on a tour of Russian cities – to Kaliningrad (Maritime Exhibition Center Museum of the World Ocean in Svetlogorsk), Voronezh (Historical and Cultural Center “Palace Complex of the Oldenburgs”) and Pskov (Pskov Museum-Reserve). During the three months of operation, this exhibition was visited by almost 13 thousand people. In the future, a VR version of the Amber Room will be seen by residents of remote regions of Russia and abroad. At a small exhibition opened in the amber interior, viewers can see the pre-war Florentine mosaic “Allegory of Touch and Smell,” found in Germany and donated to Tsarskoye Selo in 2000, compare it with the work of specialists from the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop and learn about its history creation, abduction and return to their native palace walls. The idea of ​​the “Amber Room” cake was invented by the press service of the GMZ, and was implemented by the confectioners of the Volkonsky cafe. Cake “Amber Room”.
Photo: State Museum of Tsarskoye Selo The employees of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum have not lost faith that the original room will someday be found. “The original has not yet been found, but we still believe that she did not disappear without a trace,” says Iraida Bott. “There remains hope that at least the German, Prussian part of this magnificent composition was hidden in another place. Such large-scale and outstanding works of art don’t just disappear!” Amber Room (Amber Cabinet) – the name accepted in literature for one of the premises of the Grand Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (now the city of Pushkin as part of the Pushkinsky district of St. Petersburg).
The history of the Amber Room is full of legends and mysteries. There are many publications that put forward different assumptions about its origin and fate. For a long time it was believed that the Amber Cabinet was designed by the architect and sculptor Andreas Schlüter. Today it is known that its author is the Swedish architect Johann Friedrich Eosander. The Electors of Brandenburg, who owned Prussia – the European center of amber fishing – with 1618 years, used the “gold” of the Baltic Sea, as amber had long been called, as a material for precious diplomatic gifts. This gave impetus to the rapid development of the art of amber processing, one of the pinnacles of which was the Amber Room. The period of its creation coincides with the general flourishing of German and, in particular, Prussian art at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Elector Frederick III, in 1701 year Crowned King of Prussia, Frederick I, after ascending the throne, set about rebuilding his capital and, above all, the royal residence – a complex of buildings from the 16th-17th centuries. His wife, Queen Sophia-Charlotte, wanted to transform the summer palace of Litzenburg (since 1709 – Charlottenburg) into an elegant building to match Versailles. Two favorite palaces of the Prussian king, with which the fate of the Amber Room is connected – Litzenburg and Oranienburg – became with 1707 years, after Schlüter’s departure from the post of palace architect, became the exclusive sphere of Eosander’s activity. The amber paneled room was originally intended for Litzenburg Palace, the Queen’s personal residence. To implement the idea September 1701 years amber and ivory carver Gottfried Wolfram was invited from Copenhagen. However, in the summer of 1706, a conflict broke out between him and Eosander: according to the court architect, Wolfram worked too slowly and did not adhere to the approved project. The Dane was replaced by masters from Danzig (present-day Gdansk) Ernst Schacht and Gottfried Thurau, who began work on the amber panels in 1707 year. In 1709 year After the death of Sophia-Charlotte, Frederick I stopped work. The king commissioned Eosander to expand the palace in Oranienburg with the construction of an Amber Gallery there, larger in size than the previous project (30 meters long). Despite the work carried out, the gallery was also not completed until the death of Frederick I in 1713. The amber panels were transported to Berlin and placed in a corner room on the third floor of the royal castle. During one of his visits to Berlin, Russian Emperor Peter I saw a masterpiece made of amber and expressed his admiration and desire to have a similar creation in his homeland. At the meeting of Peter I with Frederick William I in November 1716 year, in connection with the conclusion of an alliance between Russia and Prussia, the new Prussian king presented gifts to the Russian emperor, among which was the Amber Cabinet. According to the surviving inventory, the disassembled Amber Cabinet was delivered to St. Petersburg in 18 large and small boxes, which, along with finished panels, contained a large number of previously unused fragments. Attached to the documents were instructions on how to unpack the amber jewelry before installation. Since there is no evidence of where Peter I ordered the panels to be installed, or whether he ordered them at all, all assumptions about their use in the Winter Palace are considered groundless. It is documented that his daughter, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, soon after ascending the throne, found use for the gift from Berlin in the new winter residence that was being built for her – the Third Winter Palace, where in 1743 it was ordered to place the amber decoration. The Italian master Alexander Martelli was invited to repair and correct the amber parts. In 1746, under the leadership of the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the transformed Amber Cabinet was placed in the official reception hall in the Winter Palace. However, there were not enough ready-made elements to decorate the new interior, so Rastrelli decided to install mirror pilasters and paint additional panels “like amber.” In 1745 year Frederick II presented Elizaveta Petrovna with another amber frame, designed by Anton Reich, in the decoration of which allegories glorifying the Russian Empress were used. The Amber Room, assembled in 1746, began to serve for official receptions, although as the Winter Palace was reconstructed, it was moved more than once from place to place. In June 1755and the Empress ordered Rastrelli to create the Amber Room in Tsarskoe Selo. The panels in the Winter Palace were carefully dismantled and placed in boxes. A special team was sent from Tsarskoye Selo, which manually transferred the boxes from the capital to the country residence. The palace hall allocated for it, with an area of ​​96 square meters, exceeded its previous dimensions, so the architect placed the panels in the middle tier of three walls. Where there was not enough amber, the walls were covered with canvas and painted “to look like amber.” Having enhanced the interior with gilded carvings, magnificent bronze lamps, mirrors, a picturesque lampshade and parquet floors made of precious wood, Rastrelli brilliantly copes with the task. In the center of the ceiling was a huge painting by an unknown Venetian master of the 18th century, depicting Wisdom protecting Youth from the temptations of love. The central (middle) tier consisted of eight large vertical panels, in four of which mosaics of colored stones were installed, in the 1750s in Florence, depicting allegories of the five natural senses: Sight, Taste, Hearing, Touch and Smell. The safety of the Amber Room was carefully monitored, for which in 1758 year created a special position of “overseer of amber.” The fragile decor could not remain for long without constant supervision and restoration. This circumstance prompted the invitation of amber master Friedrich Roggenbuck from Prussia. In 1761 year Several other Prussian amber carvers came to his aid, among them Roggenbuck’s son, Johann.
In 1763, Catherine II issued a decree to replace all canvases painted “amber” with real amber mosaics. Under Roggenbuck’s leadership, additions were introduced to the amber decoration of the interior: bases for pilasters, eight smooth narrow shields to fill the spaces between the pilasters, a corner table, a desudeporte of the eastern wall, garlands on the attic. These garlands used masks made from amber parts brought from Prussia along with finished panels, but without indicating their destination. In addition, Roggenbuck introduced many additional details into the original decoration of the wall panels. Among them are rocailles, flowers, cartouches, Catherine’s monograms and a double-headed Russian eagle in the design of a frame donated by Frederick II. Work on the interior of the Amber Room was completed only in 1770 year. Since sudden changes in temperature, stove heating and drafts destroyed amber, restoration work of the Amber Room was carried out three times only in the 19th century: in 1833, 1865, 1893-1897, in the twentieth century – in 1933-1935. On the Summer 1941 years A large-scale restoration of the Amber Room was planned, but the outbreak of war disrupted all plans. In the first days of the Great Patriotic War, when the evacuation of museum valuables began in the Catherine Palace, due to the fragility of the panels of the Amber Room, it was decided not to transport them inland, but to carry out conservation on site. The panels, sealed with a thin layer of tissue paper and gauze cloth, were covered with batting covers and covered with wooden shields. Together with the German units that entered Pushkin, specialists from the Kunstkomission team arrived, which was engaged in the export of art valuables. The occupiers dismantled and sent the panel to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad). They were located in Koenigsberg until spring 1945. The stolen amber panels and carved gilded doors were exhibited in one of the halls of the Königsberg Castle, where the amber museum was located. When the Germans retreated, the panels were again dismantled and taken to an unknown direction. Since that time, traces of the Amber Room have been lost. In 1967 year A state commission was created to search for the masterpiece. In 1984 year after many years of fruitless searches, the commission was abolished. There are many versions of the location of the Amber Room. Each has its supporters and opponents. There is a popular assumption that the room is hidden in a cache on the territory of what is now the Kaliningrad region. An extensive network of dungeons and catacombs, tens of kilometers long, connects different parts of Königsberg with each other. According to another version, the Amber Room should be sought in the territory of Eastern European states. There is also a version according to which, before the war, on the orders of Stalin, a copy of the Amber Room was made, and the original was taken to Moscow along with all the evacuated exhibits of Tsarskoe Selo, where it is still hiding. In July 1979 years The Council of Ministers of the RSFSR decided to recreate the amber panels. The chief architect of the Catherine Palace, Alexander Kedrinsky, one of the few who saw the original Amber Room, soon began creating a project to restore the lost masterpiece. In 1983 The Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop was created, headed by Alexander Zhuravlev. We managed to find 86 photographs and negatives of the Amber Room. Having brought them to a single scale, experts recreated its general appearance, finishing elements in detail, and found out the sizes of panels and other decor. To determine the height of the relief, photogrammetry of the amber panels was carried out. In 1994 year The first amber panels of the lower tier and a corner table, recreated by restorers, were installed. Two years later, the masters completed work on the first Florentine mosaic, “Sight.”
Funds for the reconstruction of the Amber Cabinet came from the federal budget. Over 20 years, $7,85 million was spent. In 1999, an agreement was signed under which the German firm Ruhrgas AG invested $3,5 million to complete the restoration of the Amber Room. В апреле 2000 года A Russian type-built chest of drawers from the late 18th century and a Florentine mosaic “Touch and Smell”, which were part of the original decoration of the room, returned to the museum-reserve. 31 May 2003 years, in the year of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, together with the leaders of the participating states of the Russia-EU summit, inaugurated the revived Amber Room in the Catherine Palace.

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