art history

The White Road by Edmund de Waal

The White Road: Journey into an Obsession By Edmund de Waal Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780374289263
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 10th, 2015

Edmund de Waal, whose first book, The Hare with Amber Eyes, focused on inherited Japanese Netski and his travels through Asia and Europe to find their origins, is both a writer and ceramist. He has worked with porcelain, his current obsession, for 25 years, and it is the basis for his pilgrimage to the three “white hills” of China, Germany and England. He portrays both the process of creating porcelain and the fixation throughout the ages with possessing “white gold” in a book that is a history of porcelain, its geography and its effect on those who create it and those who acquire it. He begins in China in Jiangxi province and the first of the three hills where it has been produced for 1000 years and then moves on in the footsteps of the Jesuits to France and then Germany and the second hill, explaining the role of the philosophers, Spinoza and Leibnitz. At the third hill, close to his home in Cornwall, the land of the Quakers, he tells the stories of the commercialization of the white clay by Wedgewood and of the clay in North America in the Cherokee nation.  He then brings the reader into the modern age through the porcelain works at Dachau. De Waal’s 400-page book is autobiography as well as history, told in the simple, white tone of a ceramicist who works alone at his wheel creating beauty out of clay.  A big and complicated book, this is worthy of quiet and thoughtful reading. – Wendy Foster Leigh

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance By Edmund de Waal Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312569372
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2011

The Orpheus Clock by Simon Goodman

For those fascinated with Edsel’s Monuments Men, Simon Goodman presents a dramatic story of his family’s loss of precious art, first to Hitler and then, once it was recovered by Allied Forces, to European governments. Simon grew up in London with only a vague knowledge of his grandparents, who had come from German-Jewish banking dynasties and had perished in concentration camps—or of their fabulous collection of works by Degas, Renoir, Botticelli, Guardi, among others. Nor was he aware of the subsequent efforts to locate the missing art—until receiving some old papers following his father’s death. Over 20 years, Simon, with the help of his family, initiated the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the U.S. They also brought about the first major restitution in the Netherlands since the post-war era. An unforgettable read. – Sue Fleming

Other Books Mentioned in This Piece: 
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History By Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter (With) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781599951508
Availability: Not on our shelves currently | available to order
Published: Center Street - September 17th, 2010