The Rothschild Foundation is sad to announce the death of its Chairman, Lord Rothschild, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and cultural leader, who made a profound difference to many areas of British life.

He led, amongst other institutions, the National Gallery, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the family’s flagship, Waddesdon Manor. He supported many causes, some close to his home in Buckinghamshire, others as far afield as Israel, Albania, Greece and the United States. He was committed to helping communities, the environment, education and above all, the arts. His exemplary service to his country was recognised on several occasions, with a GBE, a CVO and as a member of the Order of Merit.

Jacob Rothschild was an extraordinary person, and his loss will be felt by many. The family is committed to continuing his legacy and the foundation which he loved and endowed. His daughter Hannah assumes the role of Chair of the Rothschild Foundation.

We will all be inspired by his vision, ambition, and his commitment to excellence.

Dubois black lacquer desk
Posted 1 August 2019

Behind the scenes

Conserving the Dubois desk

In the Morning Room, this large black lacquer desk has been reinstalled after a two year project to conserve the degrading lacquer and clean the gilt-bronze mounts.

The conservation project gave an opportunity to further explore this distinctive piece of furniture that stands at four metres high, which had previously been hidden to researchers looking for traces of it in the archives.

Combined fall-front desk, cabinet and clock

The combined drop-front desk, bookcase and clock by René Dubois thought to be made in Paris between 1772-76 was purchased by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in c. 1890 from Milton Hall, a country house in Northamptonshire that belongs to the Fitzwilliam family.

For a number of years, a varnish that was applied to the desk in the 19th century had been degrading, resulting in all of the lacquer, a mixture of 17th-century Japanese lacquer and 18th-century French imitation lacquer, being covered in an unsightly pattern of thin white lines. The desk was entrusted to Yannick Chastang, a specialist in the conservation of 18th-century French furniture, to conserve the piece.

You can see the conservation process and the cabinet being reinstalled to the Morning Room in this video.