The Wallace Collection is a national museum in London which displays the works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. I have written a background post on the union of the Seymour and Conway families which can be found here. This post explores the life of the first four Marquess of Hertford and the life of Sir Richard Wallace.
As I have discussed in previous posts, the neoclassical Château Bagatelle was built in about two months in 1777 as a wager between Marie Antoinette and the Count d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother. The central building above is the Château, modified in 1835 by Lord Seymour, marchion of Hertford. Wanting a house wider than the existing building, he removed one floor, which transformed its proportions. It contained the largest part of his extensive collection of French paintings, sculptures, furniture and works of decorative art, most of which went to form the Wallace Collection in London. Bagatelle underwent five years of redecorating and extensions, and then Lord Hertford did not reside in it until 1848. He also built the “Trianon”, seen in the above picture to the left of the château, for his son Richard Wallace.
I am breaking this post on Bagatelle into smaller pieces, this is the second part on the gardener's house, seen above. As I said in the previous post, the Count d'Artois, Louis XVI's younger brother, and thus Marie-Antoinette's brother-in-law, had bought a house, in very bad condition, existing on this site. Marie-Antoinette, amused by the poor condition of the place when she visited it for the first time, said to her brother-in-law that she hoped to be accommodated there two months later. Artois took up the challenge, and it is said that he bet 100,000 pounds with the Queen. Artois won his bet, two days later the architect Bélanger had drawn the plans of the folie, and nine hundred workmen leveled the buildings and prepared the ground. By November of 1777 the house, or as the French call it folie, was completed. The name Bagatelle comes from the Italian bagattella, means a trifle, or little decorative nothing. In 1777 a party was thrown in the recently completed house in honor of Louis XVI and the Queen.
Wallace fountains are public drinking fountains designed by Charles-Auguste Lebourg that appear in the form of small cast-iron sculptures scattered throughout the city of Paris. They are named after the Englishman Richard Wallace, who financed their construction. A great aesthetic success, they are recognized worldwide as one of the symbols of Paris. On a practical level, the water comes out of the top in a thin stream and goes into a basin in the bottom that is protected by a grate. It is a little tricky getting to the water, either stick in your hand or if you have one, use a cup. Originally two tin-plated, iron cups were attached to the fountain by a small chain, staying always submerged for more cleanliness. These cups were removed in 1952 “for hygiene reasons” by demand of the Council of Public Hygiene of the old Department of the Seine. Most of the fountains still present in the city still work, and distribute, contrary to popular belief, perfectly drinkable water. They are the rare points of free water in the city to the great relief of the homeless for whom they are a life-source and the thirst of passers-by.