Edmund de Waal - Design New York Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Phillips
  • "That form could happen out of formlessness. It was never about decoration, it was absolutely about form."
    —Edmund de Waal 

    Plate 1, Part 1, Page 1 displays thirty-seven porcelain vessels contained within three wooden cabinets, creating a quietly expressive work. The intentionally imperfect vessels, glazed in milky dark tones, are arranged in black, uniform cabinets in a manner that is both winsome and haphazard; the result is a celebration of the handcrafted character of ceramics with the exacting rigor of architecture. The installation reveals English ceramist Edmund de Waal at his zenith: seamlessly marrying these antithetical disciplines that govern the laws of design. Situating the vessels within the cabinets, de Waal removes them from the open world and imbues them with new significance, their meaning tied to one another and the shelves on which they sit. Plate 1, Part 1, Page 1, executed in 2011, represents a continuation of de Waal’s exploration into this fragment/whole dialogue, a theme that he similarly explored in his critically-acclaimed book The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. Often referring to the influence of literary sources in his installation works, de Waal noted the following about the present lot: “In an early edition of Gulliver's Travels there is a beautiful map entitled Plate 1, Part 1, Page 1. This installation is a sort of spacial mapping of my travels - a way of thinking how you can imagine moving in a real and imaginary place at the same time.”  


    Map of “Map of Lilliput and Blefuscu” from Gulliver’s Travels, circa 1726.
    Image courtesy: Special Collections and Archives, DePaul University Library, Chicago Illinois.

    De Waal began to produce these architectonic installations in 2007, adapting his lauded porcelain ceramic practice to often site-specific installations, impressive for their capacity to contain paradoxes like the ones outlined above. Please note that the present lot was on loan to the Jewish Museum Vienna, Austria from 2013-2021.

    • Provenance

      Alan Cristea Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2011

    • Exhibited

      The present lot was on long-term loan to the Jewish Museum, Vienna, Austria from 2013-2021.

Property from a Private Collection, Hong Kong


"Plate 1, Part 1, Page 1"

Glazed porcelain, lacquered wood, burnt oak.
Each shelf: 6 3/4 x 31 1/2 x 5 3/8 in. (17.1 x 80 x 13.7 cm)
Overall: 26 3/8 x 31 1/2 x 5 3/8 in. (67 x 80 x 13.7 cm)

Side of each vessel impressed with inventory mark under the glaze. Comprising 3 shelves and 37 vessels.

Full Cataloguing

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $52,920

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New York Auction 7 December 2021