Silver wonders from the east

From 27 April 2006 the Hermitage Amsterdam will present a remarkable rediscovery in the rich collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. During this fifth exhibition more than 100 objects from the unique filigree collection will be on view at the Hermitage Amsterdam. Filigree is a remarkable method in jewellery making in which very pure precious metal is drawn into extremely fine threads. Hundreds of metres of thread can be drawn from just one gram of silver. These threads are then ingeniously interwoven to produce almost transparent objects. They are wonders of technique and refinement. The name of this ancient technique combines the Latin words filum, thread, and granum, grain.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are Catherine the Great's toilet sets. The two sets, one from China and one from India, are unique in the world and consist of a mirror and dozens of accompanying objects. All the pieces have Chinese and Indian motifs and ornaments. Another unique item on display is the writing box of Stadholder William III of Orange (late 17th century), which was recently discovered in the Hermitage collection.

After the 16th century - when voyages of discovery led to the development of trade routes by sea - silver objects in filigree found their way to the West. European rulers such as Louis XIV, Frederik Willem van Brandenburg and Amalia van Solms began to build up collections and displayed them in special cabinets. But nearly all these collections have been lost, dispersed or melted down. The only one to be preserved is that of the tsars. New research has been carried out into the extensive collection of filigree pieces assembled by Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. The original collection has been reconstructed from the many departments of the Hermitage. It consists of objects made in China, India and Indonesia specially for the European market. These are ancient secrets that have been rediscovered in the rich collections of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Janiek Dam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

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+31 (0)20 530 87 55