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Unlocking Histories At Waddesdon Manor

Date: 28/01/2013

The University of Warwick, in joint collaboration with Waddesdon Manor and Queen Mary University of London, are publishing a vast online catalogue of materials stored at Waddesdon. Ferdinand de Rothschild's collection primarily features 18th century French/continental trading cards and very rare albums and images from the French revolution. The collaboration of Waddesdon Manor with a University gave the project access to funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council which made this unique project possible.

To mark the publication, the University of Warwick is releasing a series of videos that explores the project in depth. The Video ‘Unlocking History’ gives an overview of the project, including how the project came to be though a unique collaborative effort. The film also highlights Baron Ferdinand de Rothschilds involvement in the original collection, whilst exploring Waddesdons extensive grounds though high quality footage.

The large amount of trade cards, dating from the early 17th to the early 19th centuries, really provide stakeholders with a distinct understanding of what it was to shop and trade in 18th Century France, Germany and elsewhere on the continent. The digitisation and cataloguing allows easy navigation through the collection making it simple to find examples of particular interest. The volumes contain over 700 trade cards (early shop advertisements) and other ephemeral material associated with commerce and relate to a diverse range of suppliers such as hat-makers, goldsmiths and confectioners.

A series of videos examines some examples of the ‘Tableaux de la Revolution’ in-depth with a panel of experts, to demonstrate the level of work and detail that has gone into the publication of each print. The panel includes the two PhD students who originally examined the collection, Dr. Paul Davidson and Dr. Claire Trévien with additional input from Dr. Kate Astbury. The images are 18th century French revolution Pro/anti Monarchy illustrations that form part of a larger collection, assembled by Baron Rothschild in the late 19th Century.

This unique collection includes a translation for non-French speaking people and a transcription which details on all the themes present in the print, some of which are subtle and may otherwise be overlooked. The collection has enormous outreach, allowing academics, historians and interested members of the public unlimited free access. Other similar collections held by the British Museum and the Biblioteque Nationale de France are not currently available online for public access, making this project a vital resource.

The Album contains nearly 500 prints which depict the French revolution as it unfolds, from the events leading to the storming of the Bastille in July 1789, to the execution of King Louis XVI in 1793. Some Prints even date many years after the advent of Napoleon in 1799, which include more retrospective and pensive pieces. The albums include a diverse range of imagery, ranging from crude anti-monarchist cartoons to sophisticated propaganda.

For more videos, features and insights into research at the University of Warwick, visit their website.

To watch the videos, please visit the projects YouTube page.

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