Madame de Pompadour in the Frame
This exhibition shines a spotlight on how technology is being used to enhance our understanding of art history, enabling masterpieces which have been victims of circumstance or history to be seen as they were once intended.
François Boucher’s famous portrait of Madame de Pompadour (1756) is today one of the most prized paintings on display at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich*, yet this monumental portrait was once owned by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Ferdinand had acquired it in 1887, and displayed it in his London house, 143 Piccadilly. Either before, or shortly after he acquired it, the portrait was re-framed.
When he died, Ferdinand bequeathed the painting to his brother Nathaniel, but while the canvas eventually found its way to Germany, the impressive 18th-century frame was retained and ended up at Waddesdon Manor.
In a marriage of traditional conservation and restoration techniques with the most advanced 3D digital reproduction technology, it places a facsimile of the portrait back in Baron Ferdinand’s frame, which has been conserved especially for the show.
The exhibition also explores the historical connection between the Madame de Pompadour painting and frame and Waddesdon and the Rothschild family. A particular highlight will be a 1757 Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin caricature from a unique book of satirical cartoons, which is seldom on display.
*François Boucher’s Madame de Pompadour (1756) is on display at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (on permanent loan from the HypoVereinsbank, Member of UniCredit).