Review of The Hare with Amber Eyes. A Family's Century of Art and Loss by Edmund de Waal
They were carved in finegrained wood or ivory to reward touch and endure wear while doing their job, as the toggle on a cord from which a container was slung, most often for medicine or tobacco. A man in traditional Japan tucked the cord behind his obi-sash, and the netsuke prevented it from slipping out. Private satisfaction and public display contended in them, as it does in many small, personal objects. Some were carved by great craftsmen, some by gifted amateurs; all held forever a moment of time — the twist of a tiger's shoulders, the twitch of a hare's head.
De Waal's intent in studying the collection was to use their acquisition by Charles Ephrussi, a cousin of his great-grandfather, to understand the first wave of Japonisme as it surged through Paris in the s. De Waal has the credentials, years studying Japanese aesthetics. But that proved too narrow a subject. He came to want to hear the dialogue between all the possessions of Charles, wealthy son of a pan-European Jewish dynasty of grain brokers and bankers who had migrated from Odessa on the Black Sea.
He needed to know how Charles had educated himself in art — Charles first wrote for, then became proprietor of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts magazine; how Charles evolved his taste from tourist souvenirs, albeit the grandest ones, to the purchase of lacquer, and bold commissions of his friends, the Impressionists. Charles paid Manet so amply for a painting of a bundle of asparagus that, a week later, Manet delivered an extra canvas with a single stalk, and the note: "This seems to have slipped from the bundle. Proust borrowed it.
Charles became one of the models for Swann in In Search of Lost Time , although by the year Proust began to write that, Charles had moved on from Japan, his passion for which had been intertwined with his relationship with his netsuke-collecting mistress. They had exhibited their treasures together — there's Parisian sexual daring. De Waal moderates the exchanges between art and life the back of Charles's top hat, so out of place, in Renoir's informal canvas, The Boating Party Lunch ; the anger of Renoir when Charles bought an auric Moreau painting, which Renoir regarded as a Jewish lapse of taste , and explores as close as he can get to Charles's apartment, its contents and their meaning.
A sure way to retrieve lost time, or at least to feel that retrieval is possible, is to make contact with the dead fingers that left their impressions on what they created, and with the eyes and hands that appreciated that creation. De Waal has a mystical ability to so inhabit the long-gone moment as to seem to suspend inexorable history, personal and impersonal.
A lot happens next — that's what stories are for — but none of it seems inevitable. Charles on a whim gave the netsuke, and the vitrine that was their glass carapace, as a wedding present to his cousin Viktor, who married the Baroness Emmy Schey von Koromla in They were shipped to the marble burg of the Palais Ephrussi in Vienna, and being too intimate for its salons, were stashed in Emmy's dressing room. Hazel eyes also have ripples and flecks which shift in colour and amber eyes have a golden hue.
People with amber eyes have gold tint in them. The colour of your eye is unique. No two people can have the same colour unless they are identical twins.
Science of Green Eyes
It is silly but some people believe that amber eyes happen due to the aliens that visited the earth from other galaxy. But when you look at the other life forms on our planet, you will notice that there are a variety of different colours. Know More Humor Travel. What Causes Amber Eyes? The two factors that influence the eye colour are: a pigmentation of iris b scattering of light around the iris.
Personality Traits associated with Amber Eyes People having amber eyes are said to have wolf eyes.. Like wolves, these people are social animals and have a great urge to fit in. They are also cunning and alluring and are very sexy and appealing.
Eye Color Guide - The Most Common Eye Colors
These people are great conversationalists, trustworthy compassionate and gentle. They like outdoor activities like camping and are very adventurous. They have a lot of internal strength and are deep and profound and also sensitive towards various issues. For example, Jews in Odessa began to wear western clothes in , as soon as it was permitted by law.
As a result, the Ephrussis would not have been the only Jews from Odessa who never went to a synagogue Furthermore, trading placed a premium on the ability to make business deals throughout the Russian Empire and Europe. In , after obtaining permission from the Russian Emperor, the Jewish community in Odessa opened a public school for boys that reflected the needs of businessmen like the Ephrussis. Unlike any other school for Jews in the Pale, the boys had a six-year program that included mastery of Russian, German, and French, along with their grammars and classic authors, and fluent translation from one language to another, as well as some religious studies, math, physics, rhetoric, the history of Russia, world history, geography, bookkeeping, handwriting, and civil law.
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Nearly all the teachers came from German-speaking countries. This was in sharp contrast to the typical Jewish school, with its emphasis on traditional Jewish education and little if anything taught about secular subjects. As the result of such education, Odessa produced "young [Jewish] men possessing an exemplary knowledge of languages, excellent social skills, confidence in dealing with the world, having had a thorough education that meets the demands of modern society.
Although it seems unlikely that any of the Ephrussis attended the Jewish public school in Odessa—surely Charles and his brothers had private tutors—the family clearly had similar ideas about education. Waal reports that in Vienna, where Charles moved when he was ten, the Ephrussis had private tutors in the morning to learn Latin, Greek, German, and English. The children spoke French at home and Russian among themselves, but were not allowed to use the Yiddish they knew from Odessa.
They also learned to ride, fence, and dance, with Charles called le Polonais because of his mastery of the waltz James McNeill Whistler's description of Ephrussi in the spring of makes him sound remarkably like his compatriots in Odessa: "a distinguished Russian—who dances—perhaps—but who certainly speaks every possible language—and will be most interested and delightful as a companion.
At one point, Waal compares Ephrussi to Gustave Caillebotte, remarking that either of them could have been the young man seen from the back in Caillebotte's Young Man at a Window Private collection , looking out on the same neighborhood in Paris at the same time, the future ahead of him, everything possible But the truth is that he couldn't have been.
Although there are many interesting points of comparison, the difference is fundamental: Ephrussi was Jewish.
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal
And part of what expressed that Jewishness was precisely his command of languages and the ease with which he moved throughout Europe. Furthermore, as Waal remarks, the Ephrussi family was a specific target of anti-Semitism, being public in its support of Jewish causes and visibly part of the world of the Jewish rich An article published in the Fortnightly Review in makes their prominence clear:. First and foremost are the Rothschild brothers.
The next grade of Jews includes the Foulds and Sterns, whose settlement in Paris dates back to Louis Philippe's time; the Cahen d'Anvers family, whose fortunes helped those of Napoleon III at a criticial moment; the Koenigewarters, the Bischoffsheims, the Goldschmidts.
These new dynasties have established themselves in Paris in fine dwellings, and within the past six or seven years they have undertaken to win social prestige, and above all to conquer the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Then, through the loophole of art, one of these energetic Israelites penetrated the salon of an ex-imperial highness; he made room for his uncles and aunts and cousins, who gradually introduced their friends and their friends' friends, until at last the Wednesday receptions of the amiable hostess in question have come to be in a large degree receptions of the descendants of the tribes.
Even if this author did not intend Charles Ephrussi to be the Jew taking advantage of the "loophole" of art, others, like Edmond de Goncourt, did. Unfortunately the family did not need the Dreyfus Affair to remind them that their Jewishness was like a thread that, when pulled, could unravel a lifetime of achievement in a moment. For the historian of nineteenth-century French art, Waal's analysis of Ephrussi's social circle maps connections and relationships that are often unexpected, made more so by the ways in which his being Jewish mattered.
Waal confesses discomfort at discovering Ephrussi's closeness to Baudry as well as disgust at contemporary anti-Semitic publications, but these things are not marginal aspects of the art that interests us most. Instead they are integral to the period, and the particular issues Ephrussi brings to the discussion are crucial ones.
An immense amount of valuable historical research has been done over the past half-century, but much remains to be done. A careful art historical study of Charles Ephrussi would be an interesting contribution. It also includes an extensive bibliography of his publications as well as publications about him. Perhaps it was a watercolor of the subject? New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, , New York: Arno Press, , which discusses Odessa,