Alexander I by James Northcote (1820, Royal Society of Medicine)

According to contemporary sources when in 1807 russian tsar Alexander I was passing through Lithuania on the bank on the river he saw people who just took from the water a body of a peasant apparently lifeless and while he was not recognized he managed to undress and help rub the hands and knees of the peasant. Tsar’s personal surgeon  tried to bleed the man but there seemed to be no hope. The tsar however insisted that the doctor tried one more time and this time to everyone’s surprise the blood ran and the peasant breathed. Thanking God for the miracle the tsar said “God knows this day is the most happy day in my life”. He took out his handkerchief and tied the peasant’s bleeding himself.


The Amber Room 

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


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.


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 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.)


A rare photo of Chaumet’s blue enamel kokoshnik, property of the Dukes of Westminster, seen here at the Wartski exhibition of May 2006. The exhibition was devoted to ‘Fabergé and the Russian jewellers’. Loans ranged from the eighteenth century to 1917 and included several pieces from the Russian crown jewels as well as works by Fabergé and his contemporaries. A section of the exhibition explored the theme of ice and icicles in jewellery conceived for Fabergé by Alma Pihl, who designed the famous Imperial Winter Egg. The Victoria and Albert Museum was one of several public institutions that lent to the show, the majority of piece however were lent by anonymous private collectors.