The Portland Vase: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Mysterious Roman Treasure
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The Portland Vase: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Mysterious Roman Treasure

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  17 ratings  ·  5 reviews
For thousands of years an enigmatic and astonishingly beautiful piece of Roman art has captivated those who have come in contact with it.Made before the birth of Christ, the Portland Vase, as it is called, is renowned for both its beauty and its mystery.

In The Portland Vase, Robin Brooks takes us on a vivid journey across Europe and through the centuries, as this delicate...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published August 1st 2004)
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I have loved Wedgwood jasperware since I was a girl, so this book was like the key to a treasure chest, since so much Wedgwood was inspired by it. The stories about the provenance of the famous ancient vase are amusing and the author's tone is perfect. I believe that in my hardcover copy one of the plates depicting a side of the vase was flopped--an inexcusable error in this particular publishing project.
This is sort of a pop archaeology book; Brooks is described on the cover flap as "an actor and author"--he's not an expert in the field. It's well researched, though, with an extensive bibliography, and it's decently written. Brooks describes the (possibly falsified) finding of the vase in a Roman tomb in the 1500s and then follows its story ever since, describing all the crazy people who've owned it, studied it, copied it, or damaged it over its long life. He also goes into all the theories tha...more
The vase is an artistic and technical marvel and all the more wonderful for its association with Caesar Augustus and Roman mythology. The text is also a ramble through the colorful lives of the vase's various owners and the people who came into contact with it. IMHO, the author is a little casual about some of his "facts," but there's no doubt that this is an entertaining read for anyone interested in a masterpiece in glass.
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