Now I would never judge a book by its cover (well, hardly ever!), but sometimes a cover can be just a wee bit irresistible, don’t you think?

Textiles of the Islamic World by John Gillow

Thames & Hudson, 2010

Thames & Hudson, 2010

Islamic art can be ravishingly beautiful and wondrous strange all at once (true of any art really), and this lovely book of textiles from around the Islamic world is full of designs and fabrics that simply take one’s breath away. For anyone who thinks that great art can only exist on walls, enter here and have such notions pleasantly challenged.

The beauty of silence : Japanese No & nature prints by Tsukioka Kogyo, 1869-1927 by Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer

 Hotei Pub., 2010

Hotei Pub., 2010

You’re probably aware that I can’t resist a beautiful book on Japanese art, and this new publication from Hotei Publishers features the work of Tsukioka Kogyo, a print-maker I was unfamiliar with. Working during the Meiji period (1868-1912) he specialised in depictions of actors and scenes from the highly formal Noh theatre, as well as beautifully realised nature prints. As with so many Japanese artists working during this period of rapid familiarisation with the West, his art looks back to the classicisim of Ukiyo-e as well as being informed stylistically by elements of western art. Very beautiful indeed!

Winslow Homer in London : a New York artist abroad by David Tatham

Syracuse University Press, 2010

Syracuse University Press, 2010

Winslow Homer is surely one of the greatest artists of the 19th century (American or otherwise) and whilst he spent most of his working life in New York City and later on in Maine, he did spend a pivotal year in England in 1881; a year which influenced the rest of his artistic life.  This fascinating study digs down into the detail of the few weeks he spent living in London, investigating where he lived, what he saw, what he worked on during that time, and the reception his new work and style received back home.

How the watch was worn : a fashion for 500 years by Genevieve Cummins

Antique Collectors' Club, 2010 Antique Collectors’ Club, 2010

As a person who doesn’t wear a watch (or even own one) I should probably read this book from cover to cover in order to see the error of my ways; or at least recognise what I’m missing out on! This is a remarkable history of the watch as a fashion accessory for over 500 years, and it is eye-opening to see via paintings and photographs just how creative and decorative the simple, and not so simple, watch can be. I’m still not going to get one though, I’d be clock-watching from dawn to dusk!

 And maybe this could be referred to as “drawing a longbow” (wristwatch-wise) from our Picture Collection

Eve Pryor Collection of Comic Postcards

Eve Pryor Collection of Comic Postcards (H97.248/315)

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