François-Gérard Jollain, Almanac Titled: ‘The august portraits of the first born sons of our kings that have had the title of Dauphin’, 1734; etching and engraving; 840 x 513mm; Waddesdon (National Trust); acc. no. 2669.3.17. Photo: Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor.

Lecture 27 March

Glorious Years: French Calendars from Louis XIV to the Revolution (1656-1795)
A lecture by Rachel Jacobs

Monday 27 March, 6.30pm

This lecture will introduce the exhibition Glorious Years and the wider collection of 17th-and 18th-century calendars and almanacs collected by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) in the late 19th-century at Waddesdon Manor.

Glorious Years is a celebration of the power of the printed image before photography. An exhibition of rare calendars, published in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries, from their golden period under Louis XIV, through to the Revolution, when time itself was re-invented, with new ways of illustrating and naming the days and years.

Despite their popularity, these calendars (originally named ‘almanacs’) have not survived in great numbers. They were replaced annually and were easily damaged due to their large sizes. Depicting major events, from royal weddings and births to victorious battles and peace treaties, they were designed to inform and delight the public, while glorifying the king and his image.

These rare prints can be enjoyed as works of art and as important historic documents, revealing much about the social, political and artistic world of the Old Regime.

The lecture will explore the context in which these almanacs were made. And look at how these everyday prints were used to educate, delight, impress and express the official print programme of the court and the later revolutionary government. It will also explore the 19th-century context in which they were collected by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild was as fascinated by social history and printed ephemera, such as trade cards and lottery tickets, as he was by the finest English and French art of the 18th century. His collection of over 70 almanacs is unique in the UK and it is the first time some 30 of these prints will be on public display.

This lecture is now sold out