The polished wood panels of a group of Thai style teak houses, facing the slow-moving waters of the Klong Maha Nag, shine brilliantly in the high-noon sun. Here was the home of Jim Thompson, the legendary American businessman who developed a thriving silk business in the years before he went missing in the jungles of the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia—a man whose flair for the tasteful and graceful led him to build a house in which objects of great value and beauty can still be seen displayed in appropriate surroundings.
The collection includes a large number of pieces ranging from stone sculptures from the Khmer and Sukhothai periods to Chinese blue-and-white ceramics and the five-colored bencharong; to paintings in various media, some dating from the Ayutthaya period, some painted in the last decades. Other valuable objects include a selection of bronze pieces, some of which date back to the pre-Angkor period, gold votive plaques, and wooden sculptures.
This book reviews the early years when Thompson was building his business and looking for a location for his new house; the reader is then introduced to the house and garden; and finally the art objects in the Jim Thompson collection are described in more detail.
William “Bill” Warren moved to Thailand in 1960, after a first visit in 1958 to write scripts for a documentary film company. It was on that trip that he first met Jim Thompson, who would eventually become his friend. For 30 years, Bill taught at Chulalongkorn University – Thailand’s oldest and one of its most prestigious universities – where he inspired a generation of students to love both writing and literature. He retired from teaching in 1990. Thereafter, he earned his living through writing and by designing gardens. Bill has been published regularly in the New York Times Magazine and travel section, Reader’s Digest and various in-flight magazines. Bill has contributed to and produced over 50 books. Besides The Unsolved Mystery, a bestseller, among his favorites are The Tropical Garden, Thai Style, and Thai Garden Style. Bill designed the gardens at the Phuket Yacht Club, the Villa Royale, assorted private ones in Bangkok and Phuket, one hotel garden in Bali, those at several embassies in Bangkok and the one at his own longtime residence off Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road.
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Luca Invernizzi Tettoni was born in Turin, Northern Italy and lived and worked in Asia from 1973 until his death in 2013. He is a professional photographer who has provided pictures for many books, including The Arts of Thailand, The Tropical Garden, and Filipino Style; his work also appears frequently in Asian, European and American magazines. In 1985 he received the PATA Professionalism Award for his ‘specific contribution to the promotion of Southeast Asia of Thailand and of Thai heritage and culture’.