Ceramics, Ethics & Scandal, by Rosalie Wise Sharp, published by RWD Books, Toronto, Canada and
distributed by the Antique Collectors’ Club. ISBN 0973141700 £50 hb
WITH a subtext note Stories of Social Life in 18th century England as context for the Sharp Collection of Pottery and Porcelain, this entertaining and well-illustrated book does just that; trots along with a lively narrative about the lives of the notable society collectors, mostly 18th century, who obsessed over the the porcelain and pottery turned out by the early English factories. These include Dr Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, David Garrick, Horace Walpole, Beau Brummell, a couple of kings and queens and a smattering of duchesses who chatter through the daily life of the period – dance, theatre, masquerade and sexual escapades, all set alongside a collection of 18th cent-ury English porcelain and pottery. Some 580 pieces of Chelsea, Vauxhall, Worcester, Liverpool, Bow, Longton, creamware, delft, saltglaze and pearlware, along with some Oriental pieces are included.
In case you are wondering who Rosalie Wise Sharp is, her previous book venture was with a 1997 anthology called Growing Up Jewish, she is a keen collector of English ceramics, and has been married to Canada’s Four Season Hotels and Resorts founder Isadore Sharp for 46 years. They are one of Canada’s wealthiest couples and major philanthropists, particularly on the arts scene. Plenty of engravings and porcelain and pottery historical footnotes to the Sharp collection, although some of the comments grate a little: “And so we bid a fond farewell to Samuel Johnson, James Boswell and company... with thanks for a delightful journey into their century”. This book has been thoroughly researched and designed by Rosalie, and is a well-presented account by a knowledgeable collector.
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