written by Monika Kopplin
Hirmer Publishers | ISBN 9783777489308
Hardback – 392 pages
Member’s price: $93.60
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The book presents 50 pieces of European lacquerware from the 16th to the 20th century. Chosen from the collection of the Museum of Lacquerware in Münster, the pieces are vividly rendered in colour photographs and examined in detail in accompanying essays. "Lacquer shines and flows," Oskar Schlemmer once wrote, »finally becoming as hard as stone. Lacquer can be colourless, as clear as glass and as bright as water, or range from yellow or gold through brown to deepest black. Through the addition of powdered pigments we can make lacquers in any colour, which likewise shine, flow smoothly and harden as they dry.« Resin, the highest quality of which can be found in the lacquer trees that thrive in temperate to hot zones of East and South-East Asia, constitues the basic ingredient of all lacquer. It is therefore not surprising that East Asian lacquerwork boasts an ancient heritage. The magnificence and aesthetic perfection that Europeans encountered when they first came into contact with Chinese and Japanese lacquer artefacts resulted in the opening of extensive trade routes which, by the 17th century, were bringing a constant flow of porcelain and lacquerware to Europe. It was in 1772, however, that the French lacquerer Jean-Félix Watin stated "What immense sums leave Europe every year and are swallowed up in the vast regions of Asia," thereby giving voice to a common motivation for bringing lacquerware production to Europe, where in the previous two centuries it had, so to speak, only been simmering. This opulent catalogue narrates in vivid images and illuminating essays the comparatively young though rich tradition of European lacquer.