New Exhibition Catalog
The Felix Joseph Collection of 18th Century Jasper
Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery
ISBN 0 905 634 83 7

The latest exhibition of the Felix Joseph Collection in England has just closed and distribution is being made of the beautiful color catalog. This is the first color catalog of this collection, something Mr. Joseph himself wanted but was not accomplished during his lifetime. This is one of the premier examples of its genre in my library. At 8.5" x 10.5" the pages are large enough to accomodate the many luxurious photos and in depth text. It is obviously "hot off the press", the ink smell still permeates the air! The cover sports a large photo as do the back and inside covers and there are six full size color photos among the 87 pages. At about $40 to include postage from UK, its price is certainly affordable. Ordering is a cakewalk, simply email and ask for the ordering information; you will receive a PDF file form to fill out and email back, credit cards of course welcome.

One of the superior features of this publication is that information on the subject matter of the wares is included. For instance, under a cameo of Hygeia the story of the scene is included with the description of the medallion itself, the Museum ID numbers, size, etc. Each portrait medallion entry tells something of the personage illustrated. The collection includes over 1400 items, from large vases to tiny cameos, framed sets of cameos, jewelry (Boulton moutings included), buckles, scent bottles, one of only two known green Pegasus vases, and much more. The photography is stunning, clear, bright and true to life color. Those of us who have been to the Museum will remember many of the pieces, but not all were on display during our visit. This particular exhibit spotlighted much more than what is normally on display at the Museum.

Adding to the superb quality of the catalog are three substantive essays- on the collection itself, with a biography of Felix Joseph, on Josiah and on society at the time of the amassing of the collection. The names of the contributors of these essays are familiar to many, with Gaye Blake Roberts, Robin Emmerson and Lynn Miller being the most recognizable.

A noted Victorian art collector, Mr. Joseph also donated other art to the Museum to include drawings by John Flaxman and others. Joseph purchased from several well-known collections dispersed in the late 19th century and bought from dealers such as Frederick Rathbone. One noted collection from which he purchased was that of Dr. Braxton Hicks - a name those of us who are mothers know quite well, the physician who defined and explained late term pregnancy contractions. Having been in the hospital business in my youth, I was amused many years ago when I learned that Dr. B/H was a Wedgwood collector! Other pieces are from Lord Tweedmouth's collection notably the aforementioned green Pegasus vase.

Collecting habits may change over time, but apparently not much, as is illustrated by this sentence from the essay on Mr. Joseph:

"The collection also contains examples of early 19th century pieces from the Wedgwood factory in the period just after the death of the first Josiah and, like other Victorian collectors, Felix also acquired examples of contemporary Jasper from the Wedgwood factory."

The catalog is a great quick read, to say nothing of a great selection of excellent photos of primo old jasper. Learn what famous museum turned down the collection and spot some examples not seen in the bulk of the Wedgwood literature.