Although the Wallace Collection is today rightly thought of as a great British institution, an important part of its roots lie in Paris, where both the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace spent much of their lives. In its combination of British and French nineteenth-century taste, it is European in character.
In 1802 Maria (Mie-Mie), the wife of the future 3rd Marquess, settled in Paris with their young children, remaining in the French capital for the rest of her life. She acquired an apartment at 1 rue Laffitte, on the corner of the boulevard des Italiens.
In the early 1850s she moved to 3 rue Taitbout , close to rue Laffitte, where her son Richard, from 1842 the 4th Marquess of Hertford, had since 1829 owned an apartment at no.2. In 1835 he also acquired the château de Bagatelle, the small pleasure house in the Bois de Boulogne built for the comte d’Arthois in 1777.
The 4th Marquess moved more or less permanently to Paris in 1835 and until his death in 1870 the greater part of his collections was kept there, mainly in rue Laffitte. The 4th Marquess’s illegitimate son Richard Jackson was brought to Paris in 1824 at the age of six. Thus, Richard Wallace, as he was to become, grew up and lived in Paris until the early 1870s when, after his father’s death, he decided to move to London, taking with him the major part of the collections.
He left however a permanent legacy in the hundred cast iron drinking fountains, designed by Lebourg, presented by him to the city of Paris. One of them can now be seen in the front Courtyard of Hertford House. Both the 4th Marquess and Sir Richard Wallace died in Paris, at Bagatelle, and they are buried with other members of the family in Père Lachaise cemetery.