26 DECEMBER 1947, Page 24

German Porcelain. By W. B. Honey Early Islamic Pottery. By

A PERCEPTIVE refinement is common ainong British ceramic studies ; tn it this series adds a continuous awareness of historical issues which will make many readers wish that such studies had been available between the wars when they were striving, with the aid of the incomparable national collection, to conic to terms with the potter's art. Where material is still lacking for a complete view, as it is in the case of Corea; we are presented with a comprehensive and unfamiliar collection of examples, and the facts so far as they are known. In the other two fields matters are clearer, and in these books we are never allowed to lose sight of the fact that we are being presented not only with -the apparatus of connoisseur-ship, but a chapter in the history of art. Reproduction of pottery on paper is inconceivable, and this very limitation makes books of this kind satis- fying in a way that the more ambiguous attractions of art publishing never are. Their purpose is simply to convey information, the proper purpose of books ; no deceptive mirage of texture and personality hovers over the photographic plate. The result is so pleasing that volumes like the German Porcelain, a most valuable and delightful addition to the study of Rococo, might well replace the more succulent dishes in the banquets of illustrated literature with which we regale one another towards the end of each year. But when museum conditions return to normality this admirable series will have an altogether different importance. By then, no doubt, the books will be unobtainable ; surely no culture was ever so curiously ordered as ours.