The history of a family through 264 objects - set against a turbulent century - from an acclaimed writer and potter
264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them larger than a
matchbox: potter Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered
the collection in the Tokyo apartment of his great uncle Iggie. Later,
when Edmund inherited the ‘netsuke’, they unlocked a story far larger
than he could ever have imagined…
The Ephrussis came from Odessa,
and at one time were the largest grain exporters in the world; in the
1870s, Charles Ephrussi was part of a wealthy new generation settling in
Paris. Charles’s passion was collecting; the netsuke, bought when
Japanese objets were all the rage in the salons, were sent as a wedding present to his banker cousin in Vienna.
three children – including a young Ignace – would play with the netsuke
as history reverberated around them. The Anschluss and Second World War
swept the Ephrussis to the brink of oblivion. Almost all that remained
of their vast empire was the netsuke collection, dramatically saved by a
loyal maid when their huge Viennese palace was occupied.
stunningly original memoir, Edmund de Waal travels the world to stand
in the great buildings his forebears once inhabited. He traces the
network of a remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous
century and tells the story of a unique collection.
Text in English,