We depart for Paris in the morning, so we thought we would have a bit of breakfast and a big bit of wandering through the Wallace Collection. I have been to the Wallace Collection at least once a year for many, many years–at least thirty years. Without hesitation, I have to say that the Wallace Collection on Manchester Square is my favorite collection for public view in all London. The house contains the finest collection of 18th century decorative arts in Europe, including France. The collection of Sevres porcelain has no equal. A great deal of French Sevres was bought by King George IV for Windsor, but the Royal Collection falls short when compared to the Wallace Collection. I have in my own collection a few pieces of 18th century Sevres which came from my own family, so I have been looking and occasionally touching a few pieces of the finest porcelain ever made in Europe: Sevres. Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour were passionate Sevres collectors; in fact, they invested in the company and had every reason to promote this procelain factory. The King would hold a great festival at Versailles and tables were covered with superb pieces of Sevres for his courtiers to purchase. Good idea to be in the King’s good favor, and supporting his porcelain factory was a good way.
We have seen two Vaisseaux at the Metropolitan in New York before we left the States. We saw one Vaisseau in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace. We saw three Vaisseaux in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon this week. Now we find two additional green Vaisseau in the Wallace Collection. I know of one other: a pink one in the Huntington Library, near my childhood in San Marino, California. There must be one in the Russian Royal Collection in St. Petersburg, but I have never seen it.
The Wallace Collection has a fabulous collection of snuff boxes and miniatures including the famous miniature we all know of Oliver Cromwell. This 18th century gold and jeweled box collection is really spectacular. I suppose the Gilbert Collection at the Victoria and Albert is larger; however, this collection is amazing. Several were made for Frederick the Great of Prussia and are in Potsdam, but there are a few from this Prussian collection here in the Wallace Collection and also in the Gilbert Collection. I believe there is one of Frederick the Great’s gilt boxes in the Royal Collection.
The Boucher paintings are amazing. Room after room of these beautiful paintings. But the painting which stands out for me is the Sully portrait of Queen Victoria, painted in the first year of her reign. The story of the American artist’s portrait of the young Queen is amusing. During the first years of the Queen reign, the palace was eager to have several new portraits of the young Queen because the public had never seen her as she grew up. Sully was given an opportunity; and in the end, the Sully portrait was the Queen’s favorite portrait. Fabulous.
The mirrors, chandeliers, ormolu, bureaux plats, exquisite chairs, on and on are spectacular. For visitors to London who love the 18th century French decorative arts, the Wallace Collection on Manchester Square is the first place–out the door- when you arrive in London. This collection is truly unequalled.
I have taken a few–no a lot–of photographs and I hope you will enjoy them. I will include them in my text.
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918