Once his château was complete, Baron Ferdinand installed his extensive collections of English 18th-century portraits by artists like Gainsborough and Reynolds, as well as French 18th-century boiseries, Savonnerie carpets, Gobelins and Beauvais tapestries, furniture, Sèvres ceramics, books, Dutch paintings and Renaissance treasures.
The Elephant Automaton in the East Gallery
Works were acquired for their exquisite quality and fine provenance, particularly those belonging to French royalty of the Ancien Régime. One of the highlights of the collection is the extraordinary musical automaton elephant, dating from 1774 and made by the French clockmaker H Martinet.
Grey Drawing Room with fine 18th-century French panelling and a Sèvres
ship-vase in situ
Of the ten surviving examples of the Sèvres pot-pourri vase in the shape of a ship from the 1760s, three are at Waddesdon, including one with a very rare scene of a battle connected to the Seven Years' War.
The restored Smoking Room with Renaissance treasures
In the 1890s, Baron Ferdinand focused on the Renaissance collection for his small museum in the New Smoking Room. This collection was bequeathed to the British Museum and is now known as the Waddesdon Bequest.
The interior of Waddesdon Manor was photographed in 1897 for Baron Ferdinand's privately published The Red Book.
Subsequent members of the family added noted collections of paintings, Limoges enamel, arms and armour, maiolica, manuscripts, prints and drawings.
Waddesdon’s internationally famous collection has thus been formed principally by four members of the Rothschild family: Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898), his sister Alice de Rothschild (1847–1922), their cousin Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934) and the present Lord Jacob Rothschild (b. 1936).