Issue 33, Winter 2012

Editor's letter

We learn a lot about a nation by examining what they treasure. This thought came to mind when I was listening to Sebastian Kuhn and Nette Megens of the ceramic department give an off-the-cuff talk about Meissen porcelain and why, in the 18th century, this humble substance was regarded as 'white gold'. For Augustus the Strong, the ruler of Saxony, and sufferer of 'la maladie de porcelaine', it was not just a collection – his Palace of Porcelain was tangible proof that his only equal on earth was the Emperor of China, who had a similarly extensive array.

In this issue, to mark the sale of the Marouf Collection of Meissen, Waldemar Januszczak, who was equally enthralled by the ceramic department's lecture, looks at the passion for decorating porcelain in a Chinoiserie style.Emperors, whichever side of the globe they are on, usually exercise their right to obtain the finest. Still, when I read Carol Michaelson's article about jade, I couldn't help being struck that by the time he died, the Qianlong Emperor had 30,000 pieces of jade. It helped no doubt that he demanded for every piece of jade unearthed in the Chinese empire to be presented to him for first refusal. That's an obsession.

The English, as other nations have often observed, are different. While Augustus was collecting his porcelain, the milords on the Grand Tour were flocking to Venice and bringing back vedute – scenic views of La Serenissima – to hang in their damp stately homes. As John Julius Norwich points out, this trade in paintings was one of the ways in which Venice turned itself from 'treasure house to pleasure house'. Perhaps we'll say the same about the rest of Europe in 50 years time?

Enjoy the issue.

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Page 15

    Inside Bonhams: It's an addiction, really

    Mark Fraser, Bonhams new Chairman in Australia, always wanted to be an auctioneer. He talks to Matthew Wilcox about his passion for collecting – and why he bunked off school

    Mark Fraser has returned to the auction world to become Chairman of Bonhams Australia, after four years of living in Tasmania. He describes his time there as like living in a ...

  2. A Meissen beaker, circa 1725

    Page 18

    China mania

    Meissen is a small town in Saxony. So why is its porcelain decorated with scenes of the exotic Orient? Waldemar Januszczak reports

    Knowing that the Marouf Collection of early Meissen was coming up for sale at Bonhams, and finding myself salivating at the prospect, I did something the other day which I have not done for decades: I opened up ...

  3. Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt., ARA (British, 1833-1898) Studies for 'The Days of Creation'

    Page 22

    Angels walk among us

    Edward Burne-Jones' vision had a wide influence. Matthew Sturgis looks at the genesis of the artist who became a star of the Esthetic Movement

    On the evening of 7 May 1877, New Bond Street was thronging with the fashionable, the wealthy, the informed and the curious. The Prince and Princess of Wales were expected. The undergraduate Oscar Wilde was there ...

  4. no image

    Page 26

    Wings of victory

    The Hurricane was a very British plane. It wasn't as agile as the Spitfire, but this was the machine that battled through the storm. Patrick Bishop reports

    In the early summer of 1940, two aircraft came to symbolize Britain's dire predicament and the spirit in which she was facing up to it. Across the Channel sat the massed ...

  5. Carlevarjis, Piazzetta verso Punta della Dogana, cm 48x68.5

    Page 30

    Grand tourism

    By the 18th century, Venice was in decline. But when it transformed itself from treasure house to pleasure house, the world came flocking. John Julius Norwich looks at the paintings the visitors took home

    There is a curious phenomenon, one that we see again and again in the history of European art, whereby one country or city explodes with a ...

  6. Page 34

    Into the light

    Yayoi Kusama left Japan with only a few drawings stuffed into her suitcase. Now, for the first time, these works have emerged from a private collection. Sarah Nelson reports

    In November 1957, Yayoi Kusama, a 27 year-old from Japan, arrived in Seattle from Tokyo. She was traveling light, but had everything she needed: a large sum in US dollars sewn ...

  7. Page 36

    Platform: The art of infighting

    The Royal Academy seems to be a sedate enough place. Wrong, says Charles Saumarez Smith. Historically it's feud central. He talks to Lucinda Bredin about this unique institution

    In his new book, The Company of Artists, about the Royal Academy of Arts, Charles Saumarez Smith, its Secretary and Chief Executive, likens the institution to the brutal democracy that existed ...

  8. LUNAR ORBITER IV. Giant mosaic of the near side of the Moon, May 11-25, 1967,

    Page 40

    Space odyssey

    People and robots have gone beyond Earth to send back images of our universe. Robin McKie takes a photographic voyage from the dark side of the Moon to Mars

    For astronaut Frank Borman it was simply "the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life, one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me." Borman was describing ...

  9. An Imperial spinach green jade 'tiger hunt' circular screen Qianlong

    Page 44

    Ode to jade

    For thousands of years, jade has been valued by the Chinese for its spiritual properties. The Emperor even wrote poems about it. Carol Michaelson tells the story

    One of the most dramatic finds made in the 20th century was that of the unrobbed tomb of a consort of a Shang king who flourished around 1200 BC. Fu Hao was buried ...

  10. JOHNSON, SAMUEL. 1709-1784. A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the Words are deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the best Writers. London: printed by W. Strahan, for Knapton, Longman, Hitch, et al.<BR />

    Page 48

    In the beginning was the word

    Dictionaries list where words come from – but they are also where languages go to die, says John Sutherland. He previews the sale of the Thomas Malin Rogers Collection, the largest privately owned trove of dictionaries in the world

    'Word-hoards' the Anglo-Saxons called them. Mine is very different from yours – as distinctly 'mine' as my handwriting. Shakespeare, unsurprisingly, had a very ...

  11. James Cox; a fine ormolu, agate-set table clock with moonphase and musical base (currently inoperative) together with the original signed and dated key, 'Jas Cox 1766' (one finial loose and one missing)

    Page 52

    Good timing

    James Cox's 'sing-song' clocks were all the rage in China. But these fantastical creations also led to the goldsmith's downfall, says Simon de Burton

    The current enthusiasm of Far Eastern buyers for high-quality collectables would not surprise 18th century entrepreneur James Cox. Between 1766 and 1772, he shipped to Asia £750,000 worth of lavishly ornamented works of ...

  12. The cellars at Pol Roger

    Page 55

    Wine: Entente cordiale

    Pol Roger has always had a place in the hearts of the British, says Lucinda Bredin. Churchill even had a special cuvée named after him

    Winston Churchill, the most illustrious devotee of Pol Roger champagne, once said, "My tastes are simple. I am easily satisfied with the best." His favorite vintage of Pol was 1928, but in fact the enduring ...

  13. Luxembourg

    Page 56

    Travel: Duchy Original

    Luxembourg's art museums are groundbreaking, says Lucinda Bredin

    We were map in hand and lost trying to find Um Plateau, the place to eat in Luxembourg, when a buttery-haired middle-aged man asked if he could help. Actually, he did more than that: he took us to the door of the restaurant. It was only when we read the card ...

  14. Rene Redzepi

    Page 72

    My Favorite Room: René Redzepi

    René Redzepi, the chef of Noma, the world's greatest restaurant, gets away from the stove in Copenhagen's secret garden

    Copenhagen's Royal Library Garden is, of course, an outdoor space surrounded by buildings – but it is my favorite room. Perhaps I have chosen it because I spend 16 hours a day or more inside Noma (my restaurant), so ...

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