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Like the ceramics he collected throughout his life, Walter C. Koerner was a survivor of turbulent times. Born in Moravia in 1889, Koerner fled his homeland shortly before the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. After immigrating to Canada and settling in B.C., he prospered in business and became one of the University of British Columbia’s most significant benefactors.
Today, the gallery in the Museum of Anthropology that bears Koerner’s name is home to one of the most exquisite collections of European ceramics in North America. The Koerner Ceramics Gallery is a testament to elegance, craftsmanship, and the beauty of everyday objects. Yet it is also a reflection of the complex socio-political forces at work throughout four centuries of European history.
A lavish celebration of this impressive collection, Koerner Ceramics highlights approximately two hundred functional and decorative wares from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. From Italian Renaissance maiolica, still considered by many to be the pinnacle of European ceramic art; to Haban pottery created by Anabaptist craftsmen, which carries the history of religious faith and persecution; to delftware from Holland, which was inspired by the Chinese and Japanese porcelain that arrived on Dutch shores in the seventeenth centurythe pieces featured in this volume document the evolution of style, technique, and culture. This book is a fascinating, comprehensive, and visually stunning tribute.
Carol E. Mayer is the head of the curatorial department at the Museum of Anthropology and an associate to UBC’s Department of Anthropology. Internationally known for her work as a museum curator, she has published widely on museum-related topics, curated more than forty exhibitions, and received fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution and the Sainsbury Research Unit and numerous awards including from the Canadian Museums Association, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Canada, and the Potters Guild of British Columbia.