What's On


Collecting Stories: Private Worlds to Public Spaces

29 May – 31 Oct 2021



An exhibition in the Family Room that looks at the Rothschild family collections and how they have been recorded.

The Rothschilds were among the greatest collectors of the 19th century, seeking objects of the highest quality and with a keen sense of an item’s historical importance. The houses that they built, the interiors they created, and the magnificent collections within them became known internationally as the ‘goût Rothschild’.

For as long as individuals have collected they have recorded their collections. At Waddesdon we hold catalogues, albums, photographs and archives that illustrate Rothschild family collections. Most members of the family had both a house in a town (there were splendid Rothschild properties in Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna and Naples) and a country estate all of which were filled with wonderful collections of art, furniture and porcelain.

Sometimes these catalogues illustrated a private collection for distribution to friends and family; later on, they were commercially-printed volumes of public collections. Some of these are shown here along with archive material which informed their compilation or the inheritance of collections.

Displayed here is Ferdinand’s Red Book, a privately printed album illustrating the collection at Waddesdon Manor and his cousin Alfred’s equivalent for Halton House. We also include the more formal catalogues drawn up by Hannah for the collection at Mentmore Towers and Alfred for Seamore Place and Halton. Also on display are different examples of information relating to publically accessible collections including online data from Waddesdon’s current catalogue.

This exhibition shows these and other examples for five different Rothschild collectors and their houses in London, Paris, and Buckinghamshire.