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This is a minutely researched trip through the world of ancient Greece and Egypt to Renaissance Italy and beyond, presented as context for the Tazza Farnese. One problem is that the tazza's provenance is uncertain or unknown for much of its early life so the story contains a lot of speculation. The art and cultural history background does not rely on supposition and the reader can confidently enjoy the descriptions of techniques, materials, and fashions in collectibles as they change over the centuries, as well as the larger-than-life characters who owned or schemed to own or possibly owned the tazza. Jean Alexander has an agreeable voice and does a reasonable job with the narration, but some dreadful mispronunciations were an unwelcome distraction, among them Farnese pronounced as Farnesa, Emanuele as Emanuela, and for Pliny she couldn't decide between hard and soft 'i'. And the numerous in-text references to 'figure x in the accompanying pdf file' were annoying since there is no 'accompanying pdf file'.
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