Posted 12 September 2023

Think pink!

In celebration of the new Barbie film showing at the Manor this week, we're sharing some of our favourite pink objects from Waddesdon's collection.

1. The Pink Boy

The idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys is relatively recent, as you can see from ‘The Pink Boy’ by Thomas Gainsborough. In the eighteenth century, pink was worn by boys, girls, men and women, and it was only in the 20th century that ideas about pink clothing became so definitively feminine, not least through the influence of Barbie.

Thomas Gainsborough, Francis Nicholls ‘The Pink Boy’, 1782 (after cleaning) - detail
Thomas Gainsborough, Francis Nicholls ‘The Pink Boy’, 1782 – detail

2. Elephant vase

The Sèvres porcelain manufactory, which was under the protection of the king and his mistress, invented a vibrant pink ground colour in 1758 – it later became known as ‘rose Pompadour’ or Pompadour Pink. Louis XV bought this elephant vase, along with four matching vases in 1760.

Sèvres porcelain manufactory, Vase with candleholders, c. 1760
Sèvres porcelain manufactory, Vase with candleholders, c. 1760

3. Sèvres dish

The vibrant pink bird, depicted on this dish for sweet treats, was named a ‘Pompadour’ in the eighteenth century after the mistress of King Louis XV

4. Page from Saint-Aubin’s Livre de caricatures

Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin may have had Madame de Pompadour’s political influence in mind when he drew this caricature of a male courtier on his knees before a doll with the caption ‘this is done every day at Versailles’. An 18th-century equivalent to Barbieland!

5. Fabergé dish

Few naturally pink hardstones are known, but rhodonite (from the Greek ῥόδον (rhódon) ‘rose’) was mined in the Ural Mountains and used by the House of Fabergé to make this small dish. The Rothschild family were keen customers of Fabergé, buying its products as gifts for royalty and each other.

6. Fountain Bedroom

Last but not least, the Fountain Bedroom at Waddesdon Manor is a pink paradise! The furniture is upholstered in the pink silk that Alice de Rothschild chose for her sitting room.

Barbie at Waddesdon

Come and see Barbie on the big screen with the Luna Cinema at Waddesdon this Sunday 17 September, 7pm.

Book tickets 

Barbie mirror image