Waddesdon books

THE COLLECTIONExplore the collection

Books, manuscripts and portfolios

Superlative bindings by leading craftsmen characterise the collection of 800 mainly French 17th- and 18th-century books, many with illustrations by important artists and engravers and with illustrious provenances. Smaller collection of 16th-century illuminated manuscripts.

Baron Ferdinand’s library of principally French 17th- and 18th-century books is a fluid extension of his art collection. The 800 books reflect his interests as a refined connoisseur and amateur historian. Not interested in first editions or rare texts, he collected instead books with a distinguished provenance, those with magnificent bindings and ones illustrated by celebrated artists. Many of these also related to his interest in the history of this period, documenting social culture, costume, travel, architecture and, in particular, royal entertainments and ceremonies.

Among coats-of-arms are those of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Marie-Antoinette. The magnificent bindings are by renowned artisans working at the pinnacle of their craft: Padeloup, the Derome family and Le Monnier who are known for lavish dentelle and mosaic styles. A small collection of illuminated manuscripts put together by Baron Edmond includes a Book of Hours by Simon Bening.