The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in 19th century Paris and Vienna society. Yet, by the end of World War II, almost the only thing remaining of their vast empire was a collection of 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a matchbox. Renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal became the fifth generation to inherit this small and exquisite collection of netsuke. Entranced by their beauty and mystery, he determined to trace the story of his family through the story of the collection. In this book he travels to the places where the collection has been in this personal journey through Japonisme and meditation on the meaning of memory and objects.
About the contributors
Professor Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal was trained as a potter in England and in Japan and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. He is now Professor of Ceramics at the University of Westminster, Chair of Trustees of the Craft Study Centre and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall. His porcelain has been exhibited very widely and his work is in over thirty international museum collections. Best known for his installation work, he now works with architects and museums to animate spaces and collections. He has recently made installations for the V&A and Tate Britain. His publications reflect his research interests in Orientalism, museology and artists and clay. They include a book on Bernard Leach and extensive writings on 20th century ceramics.
Edmund de Waal was one of the first recipients of a Daiwa Scholarship, following the establishment of the programme by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in 1991.