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Gilles-Marie Oppenord, Design for a salon chimney-piece, presumed to be for the Palais-Royal, Paris, c 1717; Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Bountiful Invention at Waddesdon Manor

An exhibition exploring the work of two of the most innovative draughtsmen and designers of the 18th century
Gilles-Marie Oppenord, Design for a headpiece or title-page, with the arms of the marquis de Torcy, c 1725. The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust). Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

"Fantastical palaces, fountains and grottoes"

Until 23rd October 2016 (Wed-Sun)


Born during the reign of Louis XIV, at a time of unprecedented interest in drawing and extraordinary artistic innovation, Gilles-Marie Oppenord and Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier are two of the greatest names associated the development of the distinctively French style that reached its peak in the reign of Louis XV, now known as Rococo.

The drawings on display at Waddesdon include experimental studies and highly finished presentation sheets, drawings for workshop use, others for student instruction, and copies made as part of the process of translating a design into print.

Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, Design for the façade of Saint-Sulpice, Paris, 1726; Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957; Photo Mike Fear © The National Trust


There are designs for personal accessories such as gold boxes, furniture and interiors, for real and fantastical palaces, fountains and grottoes as well as an important group of ecclesiastical works. Many would go on to be realised in a variety of materials by builders, masons, carpenters, plasterers, goldsmiths, instrument makers and other craftsmen; others exist only on paper.

This exhibition demonstrates the breadth and variety of Oppenord’s and Meissonnier’s creativity, and skill, both valued by collectors and connoisseurs even during the artists’ lifetimes. Prints of their drawings spread their ideas throughout Europe, and further afield, and were copied by other artists and designers long after their designs went out of fashion in France.


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