Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
The remarkable chess sets featured in this volume span time and history, chronicling the story of the game and its design with exemplary pieces from the author's collection, as well as others from museums around the globe. Chess Masterpieces considers chess through the dual perspectives of art and history. For instance, in Islamic countries the taboo against figurative representation led to the familiar abstract shapes we recognize as the traditionalA" chess set. Local materials and techniques also influenced design, as demonstrated in the ivory, alabaster, and clay chessmen found in Africa. Among the upper classes of Europe, commissions resulted in sets executed by the workshops of Wedgwood and Waterford in England, Limoge in France, Meisen and Villeroy Boch in Germany, Murano and Capodimonte in Italy, and Faberge in Russia. Chess is a war game, and this volume will feature some of the most notable sets created to commemorate battles and historical conflicts such as Waterloo, both World Wars, the Punic Wars, the Ghibellines and the Guelphs, the Crusades, and the American Revolution. Also reproduced here are a Chinese ivory set of incomparable complexity and workmanship; the famous Lewis chessmen, one of the earliest known examples of European chess design; Egyptian sets made of glass, ceramic, alabaster, and rock crystal; and modern sets created by major artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Damien Hirst, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Yayoi Kusama, Paul McCarthy, and Maurizio Cattelan.