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Carolinda Tolstoy Ceramics
by Ernst J. Grube. Review by Steven Goldate.

Carolinda Tolstoy ceramicsCarolinda Tolstoy is the descendant of an old Middle Eastern family, which is also connected to one of Russia's prominent families. She draws inspiration from various sources, including Russian architecture and the pottery of the Middle East. The result is a style of pottery displaying these influences but representing a style unique to Tolstoy. Characteristic of her work is a flowing and playful, stylized floral decoration rooted in Ottoman design and sometimes reminiscent of William De Morgan's work. This is combined with gold luster and other metallic lusters.

German-born author Ernst J. Grube was professor of Islamic Art at the University of Venice in Italy from 1977-88. Before that he worked with the Berlin Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the City University of New York and the University of Padua in Italy. He is considered one of the world's authorities on Islamic art.

His monograph on Carolinda Tolstoy is more than just a song of praise about an accomplished potter. It also takes us through sections of the history of ceramics, in particular those connected with Tolstoy's work, placing it in a historical context - Islamic ceramics, maiolica (tin-glazed pottery), luster as well as the influence of William De Morgan's Oriental ceramics.

Carolinda Tolstoy
Photo by Igor Tolstoy

Following the introduction to the historical context of Tolstoy's technique, Grube follows on with a concrete analysis of her work. This is divided into a brief look at her early work, followed by an analysis of various motifs and decorative devices she uses in her work: tulips, carnations, lilies, scrolls tears and arabesques.

Grube's monograph is not too heavy on text, concentrating on Tolstoy's skillfully created and richly decorated ceramic vessels. The book is richly illustrated throughout in color and the print quality is impeccable. Carolinda Tolstoy - Ceramics' will make a wonderful addition to anyone's library who is interested in contemporary ceramics or even Islamic pottery. But beware, you may find yourself lusting after one of Tolstoy's pieces after getting your appetite whetted by this beautifully made publication!

Carolinda Tolstoy Ceramics, by Ernst J. Grube is available on amazon.co.uk, IBSN 1 874044 56 2. Visit Carolinda's website at www.carolinda-tolstoy.co.uk.

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