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July 07, 2003

The art of chess

Somerset House in London's West End is hosting an exhibit of notable chess sets from the Gilbert Collection.

Each set illustrates a move in the fictional last game played by Napoleon with General Bertrand on St Helena in 1820. In the starting position is the world's only known set designed by Carl Fabergé, specially made in 1905 for Tsar Nicolas II's Commander-in-Chief of the Russo-Japanese War, General Alexei Kouropatkin. Visitors can then follow the game through the porcelain designs of the Lomonosov State Porcelain Factory in Russia in the 1920s – the 'Propaganda' chess set with Capitalists versus Communists – to Marcel Duchamp's Buenos Aires chess set of 1919, and the geometric designs of the Bauhaus set by Josef Hartwig.

British Chess Magazine offers a detailed description of the sets on display while the Guardian has pictures and details of the Chapman brothers' predictably odd set. This Bauhaus set is particularly elegant.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 7, 2003 07:32 AM