The Colours of Another Age: The Rothschild Autochromes

Rothschild Archive exhibition at Gunnersbury Park Museum

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Lionel de Rothschild

Lionel de Rothschild

The Tiger

Gunnersbury Park Museum
Gunnersbury Park
W3 8LQ
Tel: 020 8992 2247/1612

Nearest tube: Acton Town (District/Piccadilly Lines)
Bus Route: E3 Popes Lane (off North Circular A406)
Disabled parking available

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During the early years of the twentieth century, 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, but they have now been rediscovered 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.


Dates: Aug 6th 2011– January 29th 2012

Free entry

Opening times: 7 days a week, April – Oct: 11am – 5pm, Nov – March: 11am – 4pm


September 8, 2011