Maung Shwe Yon was a highly acclaimed 19th-century master silversmith from Rangoon. Harry L Tilly, the aforementioned British expert on Burmese art, was effusive in his praise for Maung Shwe Yon. He described one of his pierced bowls as ‘the best example of this kind of work ever produced’ in his 1902 monograph, The Silverwork of Burma.

Just around the corner from Rome’s Pantheon, on the Via di Sant’Ignazio, is the famed Biblioteca Casanatense. Among its precious  books and manuscripts is an album of 76 striking watercolours made  in Goa around 1540, the work of an anonymous Indian painter for an unknown Portuguese patron.

Cherry Blossoms Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, Mari Nakahara, Katherine Blood (Smithsonian Books, February 2020)
Cherry Blossoms Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress, Mari Nakahara, Katherine Blood (Smithsonian Books, February 2020)

Experience the splendor of the annual spring viewing of the nation’s sakura (cherry blossoms) with this stunning keepsake book. Original artwork, photographs, and objects from the Library of Congress collections illuminate the story of these landmark trees and how they came to the nation’s capital as a symbol of friendship with Japan.

Very few people (other than Anthony Janson in his monumental History of Art, published in 1968) would attempt to write a history of an entire country’s art, and even fewer could do it in one volume and cover a period from 15,000 BCE right up to the present day. Professor Tsuji does this for Japanese art with ease, elegance, humor and consummate erudition in an attractive volume printed on first-class paper and packed with quality color and black-and-white illustrations. What’s more, it isn’t a large format coffee-table book like Janson’s, which means a reader can actually curl up on a chair and read it quite comfortably. As Tsuji says, though, “to survey the vast sweep of Japanese art history was a great challenge and a daunting task;” but we are lucky that he also tells us “not only did no such book exist, but I needed one myself!”

 

 Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Play, Shirley M Mueller (Lucia Marquand, August 2019)
Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Play,
Shirley M Mueller (Lucia Marquand, August 2019)

Collecting objects gives enormous pleasure to approximately one third of the population, providing such benefits as intellectual stimulation, the thrill of the chase, and leaving a legacy. On the other hand, the same pursuit can engender pain; for example, paying too much for an object, unknowingly buying a fake, or dealing with the frustrations of collection dispersal.

John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art, Kate Bailey (ACC Arts Books, August 2019)
John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art, Kate Bailey (ACC Arts Books, August 2019)

This is the story of the Reeves Collection of botanical paintings, the result of one man’s single-minded dedication to commissioning pictures and gathering plants for the Horticultural Society of London.

It has been more than three decades since the passing of the great French economic historian, Fernand Braudel, but his adventurous influence runs deep in Angus Forsyth’s remarkable illustrated essay on the Silk Road—the lanes of transport between East and West that linked China, India, Africa and the Mediterranean before the era of motor vehicles. Braudel’s genius was in his ability to highlight the intimate detail against the grand canvas of history, and his approach to storytelling fundamentally shifted the way history is presented, whether in the curating of museum exhibitions or histories of leaders and transformative events. It’s the detail that counts.