The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Staircase balustrade (rampe d'escalier)
  • Staircase balustrade (rampe d'escalier)
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • 1719 - 1720
  • Wrought iron, cast iron, gilt brass, wood, oil paint and lacquer
  • Height: 0.915 m
    Length: 26.448 m
  • F68
  • Hall
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Installed on the main staircase of Hertford House by Sir Richard Wallace in 1874, this balustrade was originally in the Hôtel de Nevers, the proposed Banque Royale in Paris – hence the royal emblems of sunflowers and interlaced Ls (for Louis XV). The horns of plenty overflowing with coins and banknotes are suggestive of the new monetary system proposed by John Law, who persuaded the Regent of France to establish in 1716 a national bank capable of issuing notes. It is possible, however, that the cypher is actually that of 'JL', for John Law; he used a very similar cypher for the banknotes he issued and the emblems of his trading companies were overflowing cornucopiae.The balustrade was much altered for its insertion into Hertford House, but it remains the finest example of French iron and brass work from the Regency period (1715-23) to have survived. It was the only work of art to be mentioned in Lady Wallace’s will bequeathing the Collection to the nation. This was because she was concerned that, as a fitting in Hertford House, the balustrade might be overlooked if the Collection was moved from the building.