The ceramicist Edmund de Waal's bestselling family memoir The Hare with the Amber Eyes tells the story of the Ephrussi dynasty's fortunes throughout 19th- and 20th-century Europe, from fabulous wealth, connoisseurship and cultural prestige to antisemitism, Nazi persecution and the dispersal of the family across three continents.
It is a book in which family, art, belonging and the meaning of collecting are all central themes, inspired by De Waal's inheritance of a collection of netsuke (miniature Japanese carvings) that miraculously survived the Nazis' looting of the family home in 1930s Vienna.
De Waal's new exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, the Rothschild estate in Buckinghamshire, shares many of these themes. The Rothschilds were peers of the Ephrussi family and related through marriage. Like the Ephrussis, they collected a huge amount of fine art, furniture and ceramics, as the opulent interiors of Waddesdon (donated to the National Trust in 1957) reveal.
Part 1: Edmund de Waal introduces the exhibition:
Waddesdon invited De Waal to install his distinctive, minimalist ceramics in locations throughout the house.
In these short videos, the artist explains his approach and draws out the common threads between this project and The Hare with the Amber Eyes, focusing on five of the 12 installations he has created.
Interviews by Emma Crichton-Miller, who writes about the exhibition in the forthcoming Summer edition of RA Magazine (published 25 May 2012).
Part 2: Edmund de Waal on his installation in the Breakfast Room, home of two notable examples of Meissen porcelain:
Part 3: Edmund de Waal on his installation in the Morning Room, which also serves as a library:
Part 4: Edmund de Waal on his installation in the Dining Room:
Part 5: Edmund de Waal on his installation in the Red Drawing Room:
Part 6: Edmund de Waal on his installation in the heart of the house, the Tower Drawing Room: