Empress Elizaveta Petrovna was the daughter of Peter the Great, and ruled the Russian Empire for twenty years (1741-1762). Although she took the throne through a palace coup, her rule of the country was mild and allowed Russia to prosper in the arts and education. Her pro-Russian domestic policies increased the presence of the Russian nobility in the government. She also defeated the strongest warrior of Europe at the time, the Prussian king Frederick II, but died before her victory could be secured.
Born in the municipality of Vuiteboeuf in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland in 1724, Jean-Pierre Ador started work as a goldsmith in London and his workshop is recorded in St Anne's Soho in 1747. He returned to Geneva and worked initially in Carouge just outside of Geneva from 1750. He was registered in Geneva in 1753 as a jeweller and later became associated with the clock-makers Flouroy and Bonard. Ador and Bonard established a workshop in Berne in 1758 eventually employing some forty craftsmen. The business failed, however, and was closed in 1760, and Ador, attracted by the wealth and opportunities that Russia offered, moved to St Petersburg sometime after 1760. By 1764, he had opened a workshop at 24 Bolshaya Morskaya Street and become a goldsmith to the Imperial Chancery. Amongst the many items that Ador produced, he became famous for his snuff-boxes which combined his skills as a goldsmith working in vari-coloured gold, with enamelling and diamond-setting. Many boxes were also set with oval polychrome portrait paintings of the Empress or members of the Imperial family. Ador died in St Petersburg in 1784. For more information on Ador see Jean Pierre Ador and Russian Gold Boxes by Alexander Von Solodkoff, Going for Gold Craftsmanship and Collecting of Gold Boxes, T. Murdoch and H. Zech (eds.), Victoria and Albert Museum, Sussex, 2014, pp. 134-146.