Skip to main content
26.04.2023

Until the end of May, the Amber Room of the Catherine Palace offers two versions of its Florentine mosaic Touch and Smell.

Looted by the Nazis in 1941 together with three other mid-18th-century semi-precious stone artworks with allegorical depictions of the five senses, the original Touch and Smell was returned to Tsarskoe Selo on 29 April 2000. Three years later in 2003, it was showcased alongside its masterful replica in a finally restored Amber Room. Since then, the original has been part of the Museum's reserve collection occasionally used in temporary exhibitions.

Presented to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna by Maria Theresa, the four mosaics—Sight, Taste, Hearing and (together) Touch and Smell—were designed by Giuseppe Zocchi after Giovanni Paolo Paninin's paintings and made in stone by Lodovico Sieries at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence in 1751. The "Workshop of semi-precious stones" specializing in mosaic work and inlays was one of the famous artistic workshops of the Italian Renaissance. Now a world-famous restoration laboratory, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure has a museum of semi-precious stone inlays, which fortunately preserves the original sketches of our four mosaics. Although the Amber Room's restorers learned that only after the original Touch and Smell returned, when the replicas of this and one other mosaic had been already finished based on black-and-white photographs, they could use the sketches to verify the colour scheme and stone composition for the two remaining replicas to make.

Now, for the first time in the last twenty years, our visitors have a chance to compare the work of a  Renaissance master and that of experts from the Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop, who re-created the Amber Room and many other interiors of the Catherine Palace.