American Friends of Attingham Public Lecture: "Generations of Collecting at Houghton Hall"

Photo by Pete Huggins

Bought or commissioned by eight generations of descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, the objects at Houghton Hall — some of which are on view in the exhibition Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House — 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), a maker widely recognized as England’s greatest 18th-century silversmith and a fitting maker of objects for England's first prime minister. Houghton's equally impressive collections of Vincennes and Sèvres, comprising tableware and collector pieces, were begun by the present Marquess' great-great-grandfather Gustave de Rothschild (1829–1911) in Paris in the 19th century.

Whether the objects date from the very founding of the house or from subsequent additions, Christine Gervais examines the Houghton Hall collection as the glittering result of generations of connoisseurs.



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