Join Senior Curator Juliet Carey to explore the beautiful boxes in which some of Waddesdon’s most precious objects live when out of the public eye.
We still use the boxes that Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) commissioned for the storage of Sèvres porcelain and small sculptures and antiquities. Their unusually sophisticated fabrication relates to bookbinding, the covers of scientific instruments, etuis for princely treasures, and longstanding Parisian expertise in the protection and transportation of precious things.
Far from being neutral or invisible spaces, Edmond’s boxes construct new ways of experiencing their contents – from those that help one to study and categorise vases, Roman glass, and even furniture, to a box that transforms into a stage, creating a private drama of enclosure and revelation around a little marble nymph
For all their aesthetic and tactile appeal, the protective role of these boxes is underlined by the turbulence of the times that they survived, from revolutions and siege in 19th-century Paris to the Nazi occupation. A recent work by Edmund de Waal responds to this history and provides an intriguing postscript.