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Madam Pompadour in the Frame at Waddesdon Manor

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.

Now, thanks to a collaboration with Factum Foundation, specialists in high-resolution digital scanning technology, and with the support of the Alte Pinakothek, this exhibition recreates the masterpiece as it would have been known in the 19th century by Baron Ferdinand.

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.

Can you tell the difference?

Visitors can explore for themselves other digital and 3D reproductions in touch displays, and a film illustrates Factum Foundation’s process of re-creating Madame de Pompadour.

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).

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