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by Esther da Costa Meyer and Claudia J. Nahson
The Sassoons traces the global history of the Sassoon family, entrepreneurs and patrons of remarkable art and architecture, from Baghdad to Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and London.
The Sassons were a prosperous family as bankers and treasurers to the Ottoman sultans in nineteenth-century Baghdad, until they were driven out by religious persecution and economic pressures. Assuming the precarious status of stateless Jews, the family dispersed, establishing businesses in Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and London. Their wealth enabled them to collect splendid works of art from the various cultures that welcomed them. This volume tells the sweeping global story of the Sassoon family through the works of art they collected. Lavishly illustrated with paintings, porcelain, manuscripts, Judaica, and architecture, it foregrounds family members who were patrons of art and sponsors of remarkable buildings, highlighting the role of the family’s accomplished women. Rachel Sassoon was editor of both the Times and the Observer newspapers in London at the turn of the twentieth century. The renowned war poet Siegfried Sassoon was a cousin. Victor Sassoon hosted the glitterati of the 1920s and 1930s at his Cathay Hotel in Shanghai. This fascinating and elegant book—with gilt edges and a ribbon bookmark—features a family tree and explores generations of Sassoons for whom art was not only a mark of their arrival in the rarefied world of the upper class but a pleasure in itself.
Published by the Jewish Museum with Yale University Press for the exhibition The Sassoons on view at the museum March 3 - August 13, 2023.