A new British Museum gallery for the Waddesdon Bequest funded by the Rothschild Foundation – UPDATED 13/01/16
EBTS UK recently received the follow in an email from Dr Dora Thornton, Curator of Renaissance Europe and of the Waddesdon Bequest, The British Museum which will be of interest to anyone who knows about the Waddesdon Bequest.
“Your members may remember that about 5 years ago I came to speak to the Society at Hatfield House about the extraordinary micro-carvings in boxwood which are in the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum. We have now redisplayed these in a new gallery for the Bequest, funded by the Rothschild Foundation, and I have published a number of the pieces in detail with amazing new photographs in my book, A Rothschild Renaissance [British Museum, London 2015] which might interest your members.”
UPDATE 13/01/16 by Chris Poole
The British Museum has free gallery talks through out the year given by Museum staff or guest speakers. Today the Chairman and I attended a talk given by Hilary Williams about the new Waddesdon gallery and some of the contents of the cabinet of curiosities or Schatzkammer (treasure chamber). Hilary explained why & how people like Baron Ferdinand Rothschild had such eclectic collections – basically so there was always something to talk about when you had guests, especially if yours was the most valuable or perfect example of it’s type (which is the case with a lot of the Baron’s collection).
From an EBTS point of view it is well worth looking at the boxwood items which are incredibly intricate and detailed. The tools, time and unbelievably good eyesight that was needed to make them is astounding give they are over 500 years old – no special lighting or perfect magnifying glasses in the 1500’s. As you will have seen in the video above, showing Dr Dora Thornton opening the Tabernacle, some of the items are not only intricately crafted, but are also made of multiple parts with hinges and removable sections.
Thanks to Hilary for an enthralling talk, which was due to be 45 minutes but actually ran for 90 minutes because there was so much to talk about. I wish I could remember a tenth of the facts, figures and stories and present them in as captivating way.
Thanks to Dr Dora Thornton & the British Museum for the information and their kind permission to use the video on the website.
Further links to information about the Waddesdon Bequest and the items carved in boxwood are available on the links below.