In 1898, Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bequeathed to the British Museum the contents from the New Smoking Room at his home at Waddesdon Manor, a collection of nearly 300 objects to be known as the Waddesdon Bequest.
,br>The Bequest contains some of the most beautiful examples of medieval and Renaissance craftsmanship, including exquisite pieces of jewellery, silver plate, painted enamels of Limoges, glass, maiolica and microcarvings in boxwood. It is the only permanent collection to have a gallery to itself in the British Museum, one that has recently been redesigned for the 21st century which opened to great acclaim in June 2015.
To coincide with the opening of the new gallery supported by the Rothschild Foundation, a conference was held at the British Museum that opened up this remarkable collection to leading international specialists who spoke on all areas of the Bequest. Subjects included new attributions for sculptures, a detailed discussion of the making and marketing of forgeries by Salomon Weininger, Frédéric Spitzer and Alfred André, the legal and tax issues surrounding bequests in the late 19th century as well as new research on jewellery and its presentation both at Waddesdon Manor and in the new gallery at the BM. The collecting tastes of French and English Rothschilds were compared and contrasted, and a line of Arabic poetry enamelled on the Palmer Cup newly identified. This publication presents these findings and through up to the minute scientific and academic research, positions the Waddesdon Bequest within a wider intellectual and historical context for the first time.