Over the years an impressive collection of works related to wine and its enjoyment has been assembled at Waddesdon, in the collection, wine cellars and gardens.
Among the sculptural examples is this magnificent figure of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, by John Cheere from about 1740 on display in the Wine Cellars.
John Cheere was a prolific sculptor who worked primarily with lead, his figures were intended to be life-like and were painted – you can still see traces of the original colour. This sculpture dates from early in his career.
Also on display in the cellars are some of the designs for Château Mouton Rothschild wine labels. In 1924, Baron Philippe broke centuries of tradition by deciding to bottle his Mouton wine at the château, rather than releasing it in barrels to the Bordeaux wine merchants. To mark the occasion, he commissioned the famous poster designer, Jean Carlu, to design a label for the vintage.
After the liberation of France, Baron Philippe decided to dedicate the 1945 vintage to the year of victory and commissioned a young painter, Philippe Julien to produce a design based on Churchill’s famous ‘V for victory’ sign. The practice of commissioning an artist to design the Château Mouton Rothschild label has continued every year since. Some of the international painters have included Braque, Dali, Miró, Chagall, and Warhol. Britain has been represented by Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Lucien Freud and HRH the Prince of Wales.
Just outside the Wine Cellars stands a major new acquisition of contemporary sculpture, Lafite by Joana Vasconcelos.
Lafite takes the form of a pair of 7 metre candlesticks, but closer inspection reveals them to be hundreds of empty Château Lafite Rothschild magnum bottles. It is a celebration of the Rothschild’s connections to the world of wine and the traditions of Waddesdon’s hospitality, beginning with Baron Ferdinand’s famous house parties.
Wine also features throughout the collections at Waddesdon, whether in the Sèvres porcelain verrières, made to chill glasses, to the wine coolers made in the 1770s to accompany the silver dinner service made for George III.