russian-royal-family

10

The Amber Room 

also known as Amber Chamber; Russian: Янтарная комната Yantarnaya komnata; German: Bernsteinzimmer

History 

Once considered to be one of the Eight Wonders of the World, the Amber Room is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. Commissioned in the 18th century (1701) by Frederik I of Prussia, the room was designed by Andreas Schlüter and constructed by Danish amber craftsman, Gottfried Wolfram. The structure was inteded to be place in Charlottenburg Palace, but was eventually placed in Berlin City Palace. 

In 1716, the Frederick William I presented the Amber Room to Peter the Great of Russia as a result of thier alliance against Sweden. The room was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, but in 1755, the room was moved to Catherine Palace. Italian deisnged Barolmeo Francesco Rastrelli helped redesign the room to fit into its new home. The room was used as a private mediation champer for Elizabeth the Great, a gathering room for Catherine the Great and a trophy space for for Alexander II. Historians estimate that the Amber Room was worth around $142 millions.

Design

When in Russia, the room was rennovated; the room covered 180 square feet and contained six tons of amber, other semi-precious stones and the amber panels are designed by golden leaves. 

World War II

During the Second World War, Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitlerin 1941, launched Operation Barbarossa, which cause the loss of thousand of art treasures, including the Amber Room.

Russian officials in an attempt to save the room attempted to hide the room behind thin wallpaper, unfortuantely did not stop stop the Nazi soldiers. Much of what remains of the Amber Room was destroyed in 1944 by allied bombing raids during the war. 

Reconstruction

Reconstruction of the Amber Room began in 1979, at Catherine Palace (Tsarskoye Selo) and was completed in 2003, costing over $11 million. 

(Thanks to websites for the info: Wikipedia, the Smithsonian, among others.  I have tried to do my best research; hopefully there are no errors.)

3

The Russian Beauty

The Russian Pearl Pendant Kokoshnik, also known as The Russian Beauty, was created for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1841 by court jeweler Bolin. The kokoshnik-shaped tiara features 25 large natural pearls, suspended from pointed diamond arches, floating over a diamond base. 

This tiara became a favorite of Empress Marie Feodorovna (1847-1928), wife of Tsar Alexander III, and mother of the last Tsar. She loved it so much that she kept the tiara at her home, even though it wasn’t her’s but belonged to the crown jewels. 

Unfortunately it was left behind when the Russian revolution hit in 1917 and has changed hands many times since then. Here’s what we know:

  • The Bolsheviks are presumed to have sold it to Christie’s to profit the revolution around 1920
  • Christie’s sold it at auction to Holmes & Co. in 1927
  • Holmes & Co. sold it to the 9th Duke of Marlborough for his wife Gladys
  • After her death it was auctioned in 1978 and bought by the London trade
  • It later ended up with Imelda Marcos, the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines. The tiara was confiscated when the Marcos family fled the Philippines to Hawaii in 1986.
  • Since it’s confiscation, it’s been sitting in a bank vault in the Philippines

Prince Alexander Konstantinovich Gorchakov. Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, 1904.
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Born 15 June 1798 (a week or so ago, hey) in Estonia to the princely Gorchakov family, he attended the Lyceé Tsarkoye Selo with the poet Pushkin who declared him “Fortune’s Favored Son.” Immersing himself in the ruling Czars’ politics, he has gained an enduring reputation as among the 18th century’s most eminent diplomats. He died in present-day Germany at age 84.
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My, but the man had style!