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Europe Divided

Europe Divided, Huguenot Refugee Art & Culture is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Huguenot history or the decorative arts. The culmination of forty years of research and study. Tessa Murdoch does a masterful job of placing the Huguenot contribution to British art and culture in an international context. A beautifully illustrated book, Europe Divided begins with an overview of the diaspora and the reception of the Huguenot artisans and craftsmen in the British Isles.  The following chapters examine the Huguenot refugees as educators, decorative painters, architects and engineers, cabinetmakers and upholsterers, sculptors, makers of porcelain and ceramics, watchmakers and jewelers, and printmakers.  Stunning color images of the work of these Huguenot artisans ensure that the reader will return to the book many times, always finding something new.

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By 1700, there were twenty-three French churches in London, and surviving church registers from 1680-1760 list the occupations of over 500 Huguenot artists and craftsmen and women.   Murdoch writes that encouraged by their faith, “many came en famille, their strong family identity and network within their communities strengthening their resolve and fostering their identity in exile.  Established Huguenot communities of artists and craftsmen in England and the Netherlands in the sixteenth century were a magnet for new arrivals in the late seventeenth century and later. Making the connections between successive generations of Huguenot craftsmen and their families is key to understanding the Huguenot achievement in exile.”

Tessa Murdoch is the former Deputy Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork and Glass at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where she was Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Research Curator from 2019-2021. Many of our members will remember the wonderful exhibit at the Museum of London that Tessa curated in 1985 and the accompanying catalog, The Quiet Conquest: The Huguenots 1685-1985. The author of numerous books and articles, she is also Chair of the Trustees of the Huguenot Museum in Rochester, Kent.  Tessa has visited Charleston several times and has many friends in our Society.