One of the key elements in the decoration of the Amber Room are the four colourful mosaics made of natural minerals. When they began working on them, the restorers had only black-and-white photographs, pre-war descriptions and a few comments in Alexander Benois’s work on Tsarskoye Selo asserting that the compositions were taken from paintings by Giovanni Paolo Panini. Investigation into the provenance of the mosaics was made necessary by the pressing need to obtain information about their colour scheme and the minerals used. A serendipituous find enabled the researchers L.V. Khaikina and M.G. Kolotov to establish the name of the true author of the painted cartoons and the survival of those cartoons in the museum of the Florentine workshop in which the mosaic pictures in the Amber Room had been made. This success made possible the creation of colour standards for the works to be recreated. A significant factor, too, was the existence in the Tsarskoye Selo museum collection of another Florentine mosaic – The Port of Leghorn – produced by the same craftsmen as the five Five Senses in the Amber Room. The forensic laboratory made an analysis of a scraping of mastic from that mosaic.

Ретавратор Р.Шафеев за работой над флорентийской мозаикой

Restorer stone-cutter Radik Shafeyev

To try out his hand and develop his technique the stone-cutter Boris Igdalov reproduced part of the Port Leghorn mosaic measuring four centimeters by seven. That small fragment was made up of over a hundred pieces of semi-precious stone, each of which provided a barely detectable nuance of colour, the transition of tone and a fanciful curvature of line. It took 3 months to produce this test piece, while the reproduction of the four mosaic pictures for the Amber Room, each measuring 56 centimeters by 43, would take several years. The realization of this unique labour of love required the collection of raw material minerals, from right across the former Soviet Union. The restorers engaged in recreating the Florentine mosaics – B. Igdalov, R. Shafeyev, Y. Molchanov, A. Solovyev, K. Ivanov – found themselves faced with a real test of their professional skills. The discovery in Germany in 1997 of one of the authentic mosaics, evidently looted during the removal of the panels from Tsarskoye Selo, provided specialists with a rare opportunity to compare a newly-recreated work with the original. They proved almost indistinguishable! And this fact, it seems to us, is sufficient to put an end to the debate on the correctness of the decision taken over twenty years ago on the possibility of “repeating the unrepeatable” – reproducing the Amber Room.

Подлиная мозаика из Янтарной комнаты

Florentine mosaic "Touch and Smell" from the interior of the Amber Room

Подлинная мозаика. Фрагмент

The recreated mosaic Touch and Smell

Живописный оригинал 1751 г. Фрагмент

The original painting, 1751

Воссозданная мозаика. Фрагмент

The original mosaic "Touch and Smell"