Francis Harding and Michael Dahl, Portrait of Henry Hoare I (1677–1725), oil on canvas (National Trust, Stourhead).

Goldsmiths and Bankers as Collectors – Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, 28 October 2019 Proposals due by 10 May 2019

2019 will see the return to Osterley Park of one of the many remarkable Old Master paintings acquired by the Child family in the throes of Britain’s late 17th-century financial revolution. The Childs are part of a long line of goldsmiths and bankers who have collected and patronised the fine and decorative arts, from the Medici in Florence to the present-day Rothschilds who continue to be highly active across the cultural sphere. As these financial dynasties interacted and integrated with ruling elites, collecting and associated displays of taste, sophistication and magnificence became a much favoured and often extremely effective route to social and cultural distinction. Financiers may be most obviously associated with an urban context, from the medieval livery company to the modern hedge fund, but the country house was and is an important venue for the display of their patronage and collecting. Among the holdings of the National Trust alone examples of estates with connections to goldsmithing and banking abound including, in addition to Osterley, Chirk Castle, Erddig, Trelissick, Stourhead, Mottisfont, Studley Royal, Waddesdon, and Ascott.

This conference will bring together academics and curators to seek patterns of patronage across this influential and diverse social grouping. It will identify the range of social, economic and political motivations for their participation in high material culture and explore case studies of particular individuals, objects and places to illustrate the sheer variety of manifestations of the goldsmith and banker as collector and patron. Papers are invited on, but by no means limited to, the following topics:

  •  Goldsmiths and bankers as collectors and their collections from medieval to modern
  • Trends in collecting and patronage amongst goldsmiths and bankers
  • Case studies of individual patrons, collectors, makers, or suppliers
  • Case studies of individual objects or places
  • Comparisons with collectors from other social or economic groupings
  • Consumption and social mobility in banking and goldsmithing dynasties
  • Perspectives of modern collectors

The conference programme will be comprised of a keynote address and a series of 20-minute papers. Proposals for panels will be accepted. We hope to publish a selection of revised conference papers in a peer-reviewed journal or as an edited collection after the conference. Please send abstracts of between 200 and 300 words along with short biographies to richard.ashbourne@nationaltrust.org.uk by Friday, 10th May 2019.

This conference is organised by the National Trust with support from the Goldsmiths’ Company. Conference convenors: James Rothwell, NT Adviser on Silver; Lucy Porten, NT Curator for Osterley; John Chu, NT Assistant Curator of Pictures & Sculpture; Pippa Shirley, Head of Collections, Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Foundation).

Find out more about the National Trust’s research strategy here. Click here for more information about Osterley Park.

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