Riches of the Earth

Waddesdon Manor

21 March – 28 October 2018

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An exhibition of stunning objects crafted from or celebrating the earth’s precious materials.

Johann Heinrich Köhler (circle of), Orpheus and the Animals (detail), c1720

Drawn from the Waddesdon collections are works of clay, stone and metal – all extracted from the earth and cut, embellished or transfigured by human skill. They include objects made for treasure rooms and cabinets of curiosity, for domestic use and personal adornment. Some works show off the intrinsic qualities of natural materials, such as pearl, amber and quartz, while others embody their transformation into other substances, including porcelain and enamel.

Spanning over four centuries, the exhibition illustrates changing scientific cultures. The Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) informed our knowledge of matter until the 18th century when the development of chemistry radically altered our understanding with the chemical elements.

From book illustrations to the finest porcelain, these objects bear witness to the curiosity, skill and collaboration of alchemists, natural philosophers, artists, designers, scientists and industrialists throughout the world.

Venue information

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