Subscribe to Art + Ideas:

“When you pick an object up, not only do you begin to understand how it was made, it’s facture, the people who made it, but you can also, I think, begin to start to tell the story about the people whose hands it was in.”

Prominent Jewish banker and art collector Moise de Camondo settled in Paris in the 1870s and quickly began amassing the signifiers of wealth around him—a beautiful home, fine furniture, and artistic masterpieces. But after his only son, Nissim, was killed fighting for France in World War I, Moise decided to bequeath his house and its luxurious contents to the state in his son’s honor. The home became a museum, preserving the family’s name alongside the furnishings and art just as he had left them. Sadly, the anti-Semitism raging across Europe deeply impacted the museum and the Camondo family—Moise’s only surviving relatives were murdered at Auschwitz just a few years after the museum opened.

In Letters to Camondo, ceramicist and author Edmund de Waal retraces the story of Moise de Camondo through imaginary letters written to the collector. In this episode, de Waal discusses Camondo’s story, its intersections with de Waal’s own history, and the emotional weight that objects can carry.

More to explore:

Letters to Camondo buy the book
Edmund de Waal on The White Road listen to the related podcast episode

JIM CUNO: Hello, I’m Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art and Ideas, a podcast in which I speak to artists, conservators, authors, and scholars about their work.
EDMUND DE WAAL: When you pick an object up, not only do you begin to understand how it was made, it...

Music Credits
“The Dharma at Big Sur – Sri Moonshine and A New Day.” Music written by John Adams and licensed with permission from Hendon Music. (P) 2006 Nonesuch Records, Inc., Produced Under License From Nonesuch Records, Inc. ISRC: USNO10600825 & USNO10600824

Logo for Art Plus Ideas podcast
This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
See all posts in this series »