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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss Cover

ISBN13: 9780374105976
ISBN10: 0374105979
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Ephrussis were a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who “burned like a comet” in nineteenth-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.

The 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.

The netsuke—drunken monks, almost-ripe plums, snarling tigers—were gathered by Charles Ephrussi at the height of the Parisian rage for all things Japanese. Charles had shunned the place set aside for him in the family business to make a study of art, and of beautiful living. An early supporter of the Impressionists, he appears, oddly formal in a top hat, in Renoirs Luncheon of the Boating Party. Marcel Proust studied Charles closely enough to use him as a model for the aesthete and lover Swann in Remembrance of Things Past.

Charles gave the carvings as a wedding gift to his cousin Viktor in Vienna; his children were allowed to play with one netsuke each while they watched their mother, the Baroness Emmy, dress for ball after ball. Her older daughter grew up to disdain fashionable society. Longing to write, she struck up a correspondence with Rilke, who encouraged her in her poetry.

The Anschluss changed their world beyond recognition. Ephrussi and his cosmopolitan family were imprisoned or scattered, and Hitlers theorist on the “Jewish question” appropriated their magnificent palace on the Ringstrasse. A library of priceless books and a collection of Old Master paintings were confiscated by the Nazis. But the netsuke were smuggled away by a loyal maid, Anna, and hidden in her straw mattress. Years after the war, she would find a way to return them to the family shed served even in their exile.

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of a remarkable family and a tumultuous century. Sweeping yet intimate, it is a highly original meditation on art, history, and family, as elegant and precise as the netsuke themselves.

Review:

"In this family history, de Waal, a potter and curator of ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, describes the experiences of his family, the Ephrussis, during the turmoil of the 20th century. Grain merchants in Odessa, various family members migrated to Vienna and Paris, becoming successful bankers. Secular Jews, they sought assimilation in a period of virulent anti-Semitism. In Paris, Charles Ephrussi purchased a large collection of Japanese netsuke, tiny hand-carved figures including a hare with amber eyes. The collection passed to Viktor Ephrussi in Vienna and became the family's greatest legacy. Loyal citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Vienna Ephrussis were devastated by the outcome of WWI and were later driven from their home by the imposition of Nazi rule over Austria. After WWII, they discovered that their maid, Anna, had preserved the netsuke collection, which Ignace Ephrussi inherited, and he settled in postwar Japan. Today, the netsuke reside with de Waal (descended from the family's Vienna branch) and serve as the embodiment of his family history. A somewhat rambling narrative with special appeal to art historians, this account is nonetheless rich in drama and valuable anecdote. 20 b&w illus. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

An Economist Book of the Year       

Costa Book Award Winner for Biography    

Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award)

Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots—which are then sold, collected, and handed on—he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive.

And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.

About the Author

Edmund de Waal is a potter whose work in porcelain has been exhibited widely and is in many international museum  collections. He currently curates ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This is his first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

alice weiss, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by alice weiss)
Remarkable for entwining family history, art history and world history in clear and engaging prose through a transparently fascinated narrator.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
minda, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by minda)
Incredibly well written for someone so young and not a professional writer. De Waal's account of the history of his family (whose members knew people like Proust and Rilke), the assembly of its collection of Japanese miniature carvings called netsuke and how the collection survived the Nazi takeover of Austria had me fascinate.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Carol Sorgen, January 9, 2012 (view all comments by Carol Sorgen)
A true story that reads like a novel, with elements of mystery, history, family saga, art, romance and more. A delight!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 6 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374105976
Subtitle:
A Family's Century of Art and Loss
Author:
De Waal, Edmund
Author:
de Waal, Edmund
Author:
Waal, Edmund de
Author:
de, Edmund
Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Subject:
General
Subject:
Asian
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Europe
Subject:
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Europe.
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Subject:
Jewish
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120904
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
9 CDs, 10.5 hours
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Asia and Far East
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Biography » General
Biography » Historical
Religion » Judaism » General
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish Biographies
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History
Religion » Judaism » Thought and Culture

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$16.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374105976 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this family history, de Waal, a potter and curator of ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, describes the experiences of his family, the Ephrussis, during the turmoil of the 20th century. Grain merchants in Odessa, various family members migrated to Vienna and Paris, becoming successful bankers. Secular Jews, they sought assimilation in a period of virulent anti-Semitism. In Paris, Charles Ephrussi purchased a large collection of Japanese netsuke, tiny hand-carved figures including a hare with amber eyes. The collection passed to Viktor Ephrussi in Vienna and became the family's greatest legacy. Loyal citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Vienna Ephrussis were devastated by the outcome of WWI and were later driven from their home by the imposition of Nazi rule over Austria. After WWII, they discovered that their maid, Anna, had preserved the netsuke collection, which Ignace Ephrussi inherited, and he settled in postwar Japan. Today, the netsuke reside with de Waal (descended from the family's Vienna branch) and serve as the embodiment of his family history. A somewhat rambling narrative with special appeal to art historians, this account is nonetheless rich in drama and valuable anecdote. 20 b&w illus. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by ,

An Economist Book of the Year       

Costa Book Award Winner for Biography    

Galaxy National Book Award Winner (New Writer of the Year Award)

Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots—which are then sold, collected, and handed on—he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive.

And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.

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