An exhibition from the Rothschild Archive
The long dream of photographers – to be able to capture the image of the world in colour – finally became reality with the invention in 1907 of the Autochrome. Among the earliest photographers to experiment with this new process was the young Lionel de Rothschild, who lived at Gunnersbury Park.
When Lionel died in 1942, he left behind the largest collection of Autochromes to survive from any single British photographer. For years they remained wrapped in newspaper and forgotten. Now they have been re-discovered and a selection of the finest have been enlarged and mounted in light-boxes, so their delicately beautiful colours can be viewed to best advantage.
There are portraits of Lionel’s relatives and friends, dressed in the elegant fashions of the Edwardian era and set against the backdrop of their opulent gardens. Lionel’s own garden, Gunnersbury Park, is shown in its heyday. We see Gunnersbury House (the Small Mansion) smothered in flowers; flamingos in front of the Temple; and the horseshoe pond full of water lilies. An Autochrome of King Edward VII, a frequent visitor to Gunnersbury, is the first known colour image of the monarch, taken not long before his death. There are also scenes from Lionel’s travels in Spain, Algeria and Egypt and a portrait of a magnificent tiger, in one of the first known colour photographs of London Zoo.
Admission is free and the Museum is open seven days a week,11am to 5pm, April – October and 11am to 4pm, November to March