AMBER - A RAW MATERIAL FOR WORKS OF ART
People have used amber as an excellent raw material for the creation of jewellery and other items and for incrustation from the earliest times.
In the Middle Ages amber processing workshops started being established in European cities, while amber master guilds thrived in the 17th and early 18th century in Brugge, Lubeck, Danzig and Konigsberg.
Among the most popular items were souvenir boxes, dishes, religious items (crosses, rosaries, altars), and amber decorated furniture.
In the 19th century Austrian-made tobacco pipes and mouthpieces, ashtrays, clocks, as well as various jewellery became widespread, the most distinctive item being multi-cut polished necklaces of clear amber.
In the early 20th century, besides many artistic items of jewellery, whose benchmark designs were by Herman Brachert and Jan Hohlschuh, the Konigsberg amber manufactory also produced pins, memorial medals and souvenirs for the National Socialists who had come into power.
There were a number of amber workshops in Palanga, Klaipeda and Kretinga in the interwar period.
Jewellery was usually classical and unpretentious in style: various lengths of necklaces, bracelets from amber plates, brooches and pins. Wooden boxes would be encrusted with amber, writing desk sets would be made of amber, as well as clocks, rosaries and crosses, etc.
In the late 20th-early 21st century amber masters and professional artists have tried to draw attention to the properties of amber as a natural material - they started using more complex amber processing methods, gaining expertise in new polishing and carving methods. Various ways of accentuating the natural material itself were discovered and created, meant to highlight its beauty and particular shine.
These days the surface of amber is often not even polished but kept natural, and sometimes even roughened on purpose. A work of amber does not necessarily have to be functional. Often it is created as an exhibit destined for a museum showcase, that is why today in the Palanga Amber Museum and in museums in other cities, we can find numerous exhibits that are called simply objects.
At the Palanga Amber Museum we can see the whole spectrum of amber works - from series pieces from the second half of the 20th century to works by famous authors who have brought renown to Lithuania's name in world expos.
Interesting to know:
The most impressive work of amber art created was the Amber Room commissioned by the King of Prussia Frederick I. In 1711, after ten years of work, a room 10 x 10 m was lined with wall panels featuring amber mosaics in Berlin's Charlottenburg Castle. In 1716 King Frederick Wilhelm I donated the Amber Room to the Russian Tsar Peter I.
In 1755-1763, with additional work by the architect Rastreli, the room was enhanced with mirrors and gold-plated carvings. Until World War II this art masterpiece was located in Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo (present-day Pushkin). It was brought back to Konigsberg by the Cermans during the war, and from 1942 the room was on display in the city's royal palace, but it disappeared at the end of the war.
Since 2003 a new Amber Room can be seen at Catherine's Palace that was recreated by restorers from Saint Petersburg on the occasion of the city's 300th anniversary.
(Source: Lithuanian Art Museum, pgm.lt)