Defining The Taste Of The Rothschilds

James Fenton takes on the subject of Rothschild Taste: ‘When, after World War II, James A. de Rothschild offered his Buckinghamshire house, Waddesdon Manor, together with its principal contents and a suitable endowment, to Britain’s National Trust, the consensus among those involved in making the decision to accept or not was that the house itself was hideous. Hideous! What mattered were the contents. Waddesdon (built in the early 1880s) surprises, and still has the capacity to offend, British taste, by appearing like a Loire château set down in the English home counties—or to put it more precisely, by appearing like a nineteenth-century take on the châteaux of the Loire, borrowing here a little from Chambord, there from Blois and Maintenon and the since-demolished, fabulously turreted Château de Mouchy.’

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