Hertford House Visitors’ Book
One of the most fascinating objects in our archive is the Hertford House Visitors’ Book (1876-1897): a large, leatherbound book signed by the people who came to see Sir Richard Wallace’s art collection after it was installed at Hertford House. Unlike many private collectors of his time, Wallace was keen to share his collection with the public.
Visitors to Hertford House ranged from royalty to artists and writers, such as Rodin and Thomas Hardy. Visitors would be shown around the collection and would sign the book, which at that point was displayed on one of the tables in the Great Gallery.
The visitors’ book reveals a number of very local visitors also came to admire the collection. These include Sir Edward Henry Sieveking, physician to the royal family, who lived at 17 Manchester Square, and Robert Ford Elms, a hairdresser and perfumer whose business was at 8 Manchester Street. Several pioneering women also visited, including two of the earliest qualified female doctors in Great Britain, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake.
Domenico Gasperoni’s Artiglieria Veneta, 1782
Artiglieria Veneta is a rare, 18th-century treatise written by the last director of artillery at the Venetian Arsenal, Domenico Gasperoni. It is significant for the study of Venetian artillery pieces. All of the existing copies consist of the unusual combination of printed plates and manuscript text, which makes each copy unique.
Ours is the only copy to be found in the UK. It is unique because it is dated to 1782; the other known copies are dated to 1779. It also has several more plates than the other surviving editions.
It illustrates the cannons and guns that were once housed in the armour/artillery museum in the Venetian Arsenal, and highlights the work of the Mazzaroli family, one of the three major ordnance founding dynasties in Venice. The Wallace Collection has an exceptionally rare cannon by Giovanni Mazzaroli, dated 1688, making the treatise particularly significant for our museum.