10-09-17

Edmund de Waal, Andreï Makine, Franz Werfel, Paweł, Huelle, Mary Oliver

 

De Britse schrijver, keramist en hoogleraar Edmund Arthur Lowndes de Waal werd geboren op 10 september 1964 in Nottingham. Zie ook alle tags voor Edmund de Waal op dit blog.

Uit: The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

`I look up at the second-floor windows where Charles had his suite of rooms, some of which looked across the street to the more robustly classical house opposite, some across the courtyard into a busy roofscape of urns and gables and chimneypots. He had an antechamber, two salons --- one of which he turned into his study – a dining-room, two bedrooms and a ‘petite’. I try to work it out; he and his older brother Ignace must have had neighbouring apartments on this floor, their elder brother Jules and their widowed mother Mina below, with the higher ceilings and grander windows and the balconies on which, on this April morning, there are now some rather leggy red geraniums in plastic pots. The courtyard of the house was glazed, according to the city records, though all that glass is long gone. And there were five horses and three carriages in these stables which are now a perfect bijou house. I wonder if that number of horses was appropriate for a large and social family wanting to make the right kind of impression.
It is a huge house, but the three brothers must have met every day on those black-and-gold winding stairs, or heard each other as the noise of the carriage being readied in the courtyard echoed from the glazed canopy. Or encountered friends going past their door on the way up to an apartment above. They must have developed a way of not seeing each other, and not hearing each other, too: to live so close to your family takes some doing, I think, reflecting on my own brothers. They must have got on well. Perhaps they had no choice in the matter. Paris was work, after all.
The Hôtel Ephrussi was a family house, but it was also the Parisian headquarters of a family in its ascendancy. It had its counterpart in Vienna, the vast Palais Ephrussi on the Ringstrasse. Both the Parisian and Viennese buildings share a sense of drama, of a public face to the world. They were both built in 1871 in new and fashionable areas: the rue de Monceau and the Ringstrasse were so of-the-minute that they were unfinished, untidy, loud and dusty building sites. They were still spaces that were inventing themselves, competitive with the older parts of town with their narrower streets, and spikily arriviste.
If this particular house in this particular streetscape seems a little stagey, it is because it is a staging of intent. These houses in Paris and Vienna were part of a family plan: the Ephrussi family was ‘doing a Rothschild’. Just as the Rothschilds had sent their sons and daughters out from Frankfurt at the start of the nineteenth century to colonise European capital cities, so the Abraham of my family, Charles Joachim Ephrussi, had masterminded this expansion from Odessa in the 1850s. A true patriarch, he had two sons from his first marriage, Ignace and Léon. And then when he remarried at fifty he had continued producing children: two more sons, Michel and Maurice, and two daughters, Thérèse and Marie. All of these six children were to be deployed as financiers or married into suitable Jewish dynasties."

 

 
Edmund de Waal (Nottingham, 10 september 1964)

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10-09-16

Edmund de Waal

 

De Britse schrijver, keramist en hoogleraar Edmund Arthur Lowndes de Waal werd geboren op 10 september 1964 in Nottingham. De Waal is een zoon van de deken van Canterbury Cathedral, Victor de Waal. De Waal's grootmoeder, Elisabeth de Waal, stamde uit de Weense, joodse familie Ephrussi. Ze trouwde met de Nederlander Hendrick de Waal en trol met hem door Europa om tijdens WO II tenslotte in Emgeland terecht te komen. Hij doorliep de King’s School in Canterbury voordat hij een beurs kreeg voor de studie Engels aan Trinity Hall in Cambridge. Tijdens zijn schooljaren in Canterbury de Waal leerde het ambacht van pottenbakker. Dus het was niet meer dan logisch dat hij na zijn afstuderen zijn eigen pottenbakkerij opende in het westen van Engeland in de buurt van de grens met Wales. Tegelijkertijd leerde hij de Japanse taal aan de Universiteit van Sheffield en kreeg een tweejarige werkbeurs ​​van de stichting van het Japanse beursbedrijf Daiwa Shōken Group Honda, die hem in staat stelde om te werken in de Mejiro Ceramics Studio in Tokio. In 2010 werd de Waasl familiegeschiedenis “The Hare with the Amber Eyes: a Hidden Inheritance” gepubliceerd en in hetzelfde jaar won het boek de Costa Book Award in de categorie biografie. De titel verwijst naar een van de 264 Netsukefiguren die de Waal van zijn oudoom Iggy (Ignaz / Ignace) Leo Ephrussi had geërfd. Het verhaal beschrijft het leven van zijn voorouders, de joodse familie Ephrussi, die als Griekse Sephardim door handel en banktransacties in heel Europabekend werd, maar werden vervolgens echter als Joden werden vervolgd in de tijd van het nationaal-socialisme.

Uit: The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

“One sunny April day I set out to find Charles. Rue de Monceau is a long Parisian street bisected by the grand boulevard Malesherbes that charges off towards the boulevard Pereire. It is a hill of golden stone houses, a series of hotels playing discreetly on neoclassical themes, each a minor Florentine palace with heavily rusticated ground floors and an array of heads, caryatids and cartouches. Number 81 rue de Monceau, the Hôtel Ephrussi, where my netsuke start their journey, is near the top of the hill. I pass the headquarters of Christian Lacroix and then, next door, there it is. It is now, rather crushingly, an office for medical insurance.
It is utterly beautiful. As a boy I used to draw buildings like this, spending afternoons carefully inking in shadows so that you could see the rise and fall of the depth of the windows and pillars. There is something musical in this kind of elevation. You take classical elements and try to bring them into rhythmic life: four Corinthian pilasters rising up to pace the façade, four massive stone urns on the parapet, five storeys high, eight windows wide. The street level is made up of great blocks of stone worked to look as if they have been weathered. I walk past a couple of times and, on the third, notice that there is the double back-to-back E of the Ephrussi family incorporated into the metal grilles over the street windows, the tendrils of the letters reaching into the spaces of the oval. It is barely there. I try to work out this rectitude and what it says about their confidence. I duck through the passageway to a courtyard, then through another arch to a stable block of red brick with servants’ quarters above; a pleasing diminuendo of materials and textures.
A delivery man carries boxes of Speedy-Go Pizza into the medical insurers. The door into the entrance hall is open. I walk into the hall, its staircase curling up like a coil of smoke through the whole house, black cast iron and gold filigree stretching up to a lantern at the top. There is a marble urn in a deep niche, chequerboard marble tiles. Executives are coming down the stairs, heels hard on marble, and I retreat in embarrassment. How can I start to explain this idiotic quest? I stand in the street and watch the house and take some photographs, apologetic Parisians ducking past me. House-watching is an art. You have to develop a way of seeing how a building sits in its landscape or streetscape. You have to discover how much room it takes up in the world, how much of the world it displaces. Number 81, for instance, is a house that cannily disappears into its neighbours: there are other houses that are grander, some are plainer, but few are more discreet.”

 

 
Edmund de Waal (Nottingham, 10 september 1964)

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