Enfilade

New Book | Letters to Camondo

Posted in books by Editor on July 13, 2021

From Macmillan:

Edmund de Waal, Letters to Camondo (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021), 192 pages, ISBN: 978-0374603489, $28.

A tragic family history told in a collection of imaginary letters to a famed collector, Moise de Camondo

Letters to Camondo is a collection of imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to Moise de Camondo (1860–1935), the banker and art collector who created a spectacular house in Paris, now the Musée Nissim de Camondo, and filled it with the greatest private collection of French eighteenth-century art.

The Camondos were a Jewish family from Constantinople, ‘the Rothschilds of the East’, who made their home in Paris in the 1870s and became philanthropists, art collectors, and fixtures of Belle Époque high society, as well as being targets of antisemitism—much like de Waal’s relations, the Ephrussi family, to whom they were connected. Moise de Camondo created a spectacular house and filled it with art for his son, Nissim; after Nissim was killed in the First World War, the house was bequeathed to the French state. Eventually, the Camondos were murdered by the Nazis.

After de Waal, one of the world’s great ceramic artists, was invited to make an exhibition in the Camondo house, he began to write letters to Moise de Camondo. These fifty letters are deeply personal reflections on assimilation, melancholy, family, art, the vicissitudes of history, and the value of memory.

Edmund de Waal is an artist who has exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. His bestselling memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes, has won many prizes and has been translated into twenty-nine languages. The White Road, a journey into the history of porcelain, was published in 2015. He lives in London with his family.

New Book | The House of Fragile Things

Posted in books by Editor on July 13, 2021

From Yale UP:

James McAuley, The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-0300233377, $30.

In the dramatic years between 1870 and the end of World War II, a number of prominent French Jews—pillars of an embattled community—invested their fortunes in France’s cultural artifacts, sacrificed their sons to the country’s army, and were ultimately rewarded by seeing their collections plundered and their families deported to Nazi concentration camps.

In this rich, evocative account, James McAuley explores the central role that art and material culture played in the assimilation and identity of French Jews in the fin-de-siècle. Weaving together narratives of various figures, some familiar from the works of Marcel Proust and the diaries of Jules and Edmond Goncourt—the Camondos, the Rothschilds, the Ephrussis, the Cahens d’Anvers—McAuley shows how Jewish art collectors contended with a powerful strain of anti-Semitism: they were often accused of ‘invading’ France’s cultural patrimony. The collections these families left behind—many ultimately donated to the French state—were their response, tragic attempts to celebrate a nation that later betrayed them.

James McAuley is the Paris correspondent for The Washington Post and a contributor to The New York Review of Books. He recently received his doctorate in French history at Oxford.