Collecting and Material Culture
Jewish country houses embodied a certain vision of the world and the place of Jews within it; this vision was expressed through architecture, through interiors and especially through art collections, assembled by Jewish and non-Jewish intermediaries. Differing considerably in scale and style, all these houses nonetheless articulated notions of civilisation, cultural identity and nationhood through material culture.
This research strand will ask what these houses reveal about pan-European networks of collectors, antiques dealers and taste-makers? What was distinctive about Jewish forms of collecting in the country house; what trends did it follow, which periods did it favour, which styles did it emulate, and in what areas did it innovate? Moreover, what does the formation of country house collections reveal about how Jews conceived of their relationship to national pasts, the history of art and the progress of civilisation?
To date, the study of Jews as collectors has fragmented into the study of specific dynasties or individuals. By considering Jewish dealers as a transnational cohort, linked together by a web of Jewish intermediaries and dealers, the project will connect the emergence of Jewish country houses to the wider consolidation of Jewish artistic expertise.