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Sources for business history: plans of New Court

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

200 years of Rothschild business with Portugal and the ‘Wedding Cake’ at Waddesdon Manor

The collections of The Rothschild Archive London contain over two million pieces of paper, volumes, files, photographs, artefacts and art works. Archivist's Choice is a series a short articles each highlighting a treasure from the Archive collection, or celebrating an anniversary or special event. Browse through our library of Archivist's Choice articles to discover some of the fascinating stories behind our collections.

In the year commemorating the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, we take the opportunity to reflect on 200 years of Rothschild business with Portugal, and explore a stunning new art commission by a Portuguese artist opening this summer at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England.

Rothschild’s history with Portugal

Whilst this year marks the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the longest diplomatic allegiance in history, it also marks 200 years of Rothschild business with Portugal. In 1823, Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) contracted to undertake the Portuguese Government five per cent loan, for one-and-a half million British pounds, at the charge of the Brazilian Government. A letter copybook in the Archive collection records Nathan’s approaches to Baron de Teixeira, the Portuguese Minister of Finance in Lisbon, in July 1823.

“The letter placed yesterday in my hands by your brother has given me much pleasure, as it will afford me an opportunity of testifying the consideration which I entertain for your Government.  I have, accordingly, lost no time in communicating its contents to my Brother in Paris, and I have desired that he will hasten, in furtherance of your views, to send a confidential person to Lisbon for the purpose of entering into a negotiation with respect to the terms of a loan…I may, also, venture to pronounce that the permanent interest of the Portuguese Governments will be best consulted by concluding the loan with ourselves, inasmuch as from the resources & credit we possess it would be more effectually in our power to advance and maintain the price of your securities than any other parties…."  

The Rothschild Foundation commissions sculpture by Portuguese artist at Waddesdon Manor

Coincidentally, the Rothschild Foundation has commissioned  ‘Wedding Cake’, a 12-metre-tall ceramic sculptural pavilion in the form of a three-tiered cake, from the celebrated Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Wedding Cake stands within a grove of trees at Waddesdon, and is a playful continuation of the tradition of placing fanciful buildings in gardens and landscapes. Visitors to Waddesdon will also be able to see another Vasconcelos commission, ‘Lafite’, a magnificent sculpture in the form of two giant candlesticks made of wine bottles. 

“I want people to have three different approaches to it: looking from the outside, enjoying the surroundings from the different levels or balconies and rising to the top, finally completing the artwork with their presence. Above all, I always thought of it as a temple to love.” - Joana Vasconcelos  

The creation of Wedding Cake

Part sculpture, part architectural garden folly, Wedding Cake is a celebration of joy, inspired by the exuberant Baroque buildings of Lisbon, where Vasconcelos lives and works. Thousands of gleaming, icing-like ceramic tiles glazed in pale pinks, greens and blues decorate the cake, all made in the traditional Portuguese way. It is further adorned with sculptural ornament and completed by the sounds of trickling water. 

Wedding Cake is Vasconcelos’ most ambitious commission to date and a perfect complement to Waddesdon; the imagination exemplified in the piece mirrors the passion which drove Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1838-1898), to create Waddesdon Manor as a stunning backdrop for his collections of art. The ceramic tiles reference Ferdinand’s world-renowned collection of Sèvres and Meissen porcelain, while the sumptuous decoration reflects the architecture of the house. Wedding Cake was formally opened by the President of the Portuguese Republic in June.

Wedding Cake opened to the public on 18 June, and runs until 26 October. Find out more and book tickets here.

Read more about the commemoration of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance and celebratory events here

Letter copybook of correspondence from Nathan Mayer Rothschild

Letter copybook of correspondence from Nathan Mayer Rothschild

'Wedding Cake' at Waddesdon Manor

'Wedding Cake' at Waddesdon Manor