Treasures from
the Baltic Sea
16th - 18th century

October 18—December 16, 2023

Galerie Kugel, Paris

From Roman times to the 18th century, many recognised the inherent value of amber and hypothesised its origin, some assuming it to be whale sperm, others, solidified lynx urine. Its mystery endowed it with medicinal virtues. Amber was recommended as a powder to cure melancholy, toothache, and epilepsy, among other ailments, and as a love filter. The occasional inclusions of insects and small animals found trapped in amber have also made it a symbol of immortality.

Pliny the Elder was the first to unveil its nature as the result of plant resin, but it wasn’t until 1757 that the Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonossov determined its true origin. Amber is a fossilised resin originating, in the case of the objects exhibited, from a prehistoric forest dating back to some 30 to 40 million years, located under the Baltic Sea, between the towns of Danzig (today Gdansk in Poland) and Königsberg (today Kaliningrad in Russia), then, in East Prussia.

In the 16th century, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1490-1568) converted to Protestantism and transformed the territories of the Order of the Teutonic Knights in the Duchy of Prussia. This marked the beginning of a tremendous expansion in the trade and production of amber works of art. They became Prussia’s diplomatic gifts par excellence and were sought after to adorn the “Kunstkammern” of Europe’s sovereigns and princes.

It took nearly 20 years to collect the fifty pieces on display in this exhibition. Combining sculptures, caskets, tankards, and game boards, the wide variety of objects presented illustrate the fascination for amber through the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

An extensively illustrated catalogue co-written by Alexis Kugel and Rahul Kulka, and published by Editions Monelle Hayot will be available in October.

Amber - Galerie Kugel
Amber - Galerie Kugel
Galerie Kugel 25, quai Anatole France 75007 Paris, France