Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, Vase from a set of Three Blue Nouveau Vases, 1760s, soft-paste porcelain, Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall. Photo: Pete Huggins, by kind permission of Houghton Hall.
A Splendid Legacy: Generations of Collecting at Houghton Hall
Presented by Christine Gervais, associate curator, decorative arts and Rienzi.
Bought or commissioned by eight generations of descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, England's first prime minister, the objects at Houghton Hall comprise a fascinating chronicle of centuries of collecting. From inkstands to wine coolers, the silver made for Sir Robert evokes his role as statesman as well as his legendary hospitality.
Most of the extant silver was made by Paul de Lamerie (1688–1751), widely recognized as England’s greatest 18th-century silversmith and a fitting maker of objects for the prime minister. Houghton’s equally impressive collections of Vincennes and Sèvres, comprised of tableware and “collector pieces,” were begun in Paris in the 19th century by the present Marquess’ great-great-grandfather Gustave de Rothschild (1829–1911). Whether they date from the very founding of the house or from subsequent additions, the objects at Houghton Hall are the glittering result of generations of connoisseurs.