Reading this book offers one a wonderful opportunity to understand and appreciate the ethos of such modern day connoisseur collectors, in his foreword to the book Simon Stephens Curator of Ship Models at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich London, hits the mark when he says “Their meticulous research, spanning over thirty years, has clearly added to a rather scarce surviving knowledge about ships models from the 17th and 18th centuries”, he goes on to follow this with “ therefore, it is only fitting that the meticulous and fascinating research done by both Arnold and Henry be committed to print”, what above all stands out looking over the pages of this book is a zeal the brothers have for collecting and at the same time a enthusiasm for knowledge, armed with this dual passion they have been spectacularly successful acquiring to date at least 15 major models of International importance together with 10 smaller vessels.
Within this book each individual model is given its own chapter, lavishly illustrated with detailed colour photographs taken by the brothers, plus a number of fascinating historic black and white views taken from a number of sources; “Acquisition” starts the chapter with an absorbing narrative into how and when the model was acquired, this is absorbing in both it’s detail and honesty, and shows that no two acquisitions are the same, some taking weeks and days or even hours to complete others years if not decades, the Kriegstein’s collecting philosophy is don’t despair and don’t give in, perseverance is a virtue, and virtue brings it’s own rewards, following on from acquisition comes “Provenance”, this is where the meticulous research comes in, with details in to the history of the particular model, from the year it was built and it’s original owner to the year it was acquired in to the Kriegstein collection, as with any kind of on going research this section is inevitably open for additional information, as a number of the un-named models in the collection have tantalizing gaps that need to be filled, the mark of a true connoisseur collector is that once the object has been “found”, this for them is only the first step in a long journey of understanding, appreciation and custodianship, that has it’s responsibilities to the object in question and to future generations, reading each chapter it’s possible to identify with the brothers undoubted thrill of the chase and the finale coup de grâce, as a purchase is made, with the newly bought model arriving in one of the brothers homes, the chapter continues with “Description” a two stage assessment of the actual model itself, the first part being a full and in-depth analysis of the models condition when purchased together with details of any restoration work needed, the second stage concentrates on the models construction, this is augmented with a series of detailed photographs allowing the reader to study the models at leisure, it’s not surprising to read that over the years many of the models have been published in various books and magazine articles dating from the nineteenth century to the present day, a list of such publications are given before the final stage of the chapter, “Historical Perspective” this is a history of the original vessel in question, from shipyard cradle to a watery grave, throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth century British Naval power and prestige was at it’s height, vessels such as the Royal James of 1671 or the Marlborough of 1706 had at the time a significance difficult for us to understand in today’s modern age, in many ways “Art” went to sea, the rich decorative carvings on vessels such as the Royal James and Marlborough are testimony to a tradition of opulence on both Land and Sea, by the end of the eighteenth century this attitude was already slowing down.
Towards the end of the book are two chapters devoted to the brothers wonderful collection of equally rare paintings showing ship models, plus the work of Willem Van de Velde the elder and younger, very much a book in its own right.
Over the past few years a number of very fine books have been produced on the subject of ship models, it is safe to say that this book has its rightful place at the top of list, both Arnold and Henry Kriegstein should be congratulated on this outstanding achievement, not only for the authoritative text, and the details photographs but also for the superb production values from it’s publisher sea watch books, the first edition of this book is now out of print, this second expanded edition is a most worthy successor and is a “Must have” book for anyone interested in this fascinating subject.
17th and 18th Century Ship Models from the
Second Revised and Expanded Edition,
Arnold and Henry Kriegstein
Is published by SEA WATCH BOOKS LLC
19 Sea Watch Place, Florence, OR 97439 USA.
Phone (541) 997-4439 Fax (541) 997-1282.
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