With most of us working from home and spending our days on video calls Waddesdon Manor is giving people the chance to add a touch of glamour to their online meetings, by offering free downloads of lavish interiors, amazing artwork and spectacular gardens to dazzle colleagues on Zoom and Teams.
Waddesdon was made for meetings it was built in the 1870s to host gatherings of the great and good at Baron Ferdinands house parties.
So, if you're working from home or just staying in touch with loved ones, why not jazz up your next call with one of our favourite views or rooms or some of the most popular paintings in the collection to give you a background fit for royalty. Heres some of what is on offer
Sometimes more is more. Bring a touch of France to your screens with this incredible aerial shot of the Manor. Waddesdon was created for Baron Ferdinand and designed by French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, in the style of a French Renaissance châteaux like those in the Loire valley. The foundation stone was laid in 1877 and the house slept in for the first time in 1880. Ferdinand created an instant garden around it, importing mature trees which still line its sweeping lawns.
Settle into Baron Ferdinands inner sanctum his private sitting room. His bedroom was immediately above, connected by a small service staircase, and the two spaces formed a kind of apartment within the house. Here, where he would sit to read the newspapers (accompanied by his poodle, Poupon) he gathered his favourite works of art, from a portrait of the notorious Emma Hamilton to a desk made for King Louis XVIs private study, to a bust of Queen Victoria, given to him following her visit to Waddesdon in 1890.
This richly decorated room was where house party guests could smoke after dinner and perhaps have a game of billiards next door. Baron Ferdinand also designed this room to display his Renaissance Museum, an exceptional collection of medieval and Renaissance works of art, inspired by the tradition of the Schatzkammer, or treasure room. It now contains objects collected by other members of the family Ferdinands collection was bequeathed to the British Museum on his death, where it can still be seen.
Red Drawing Room
The Red drawing Room was the first room Baron Ferdinand's guests would enter. It is the central room of the house, connecting the main door with the formal gardens to the south. Baron Ferdinands guests would congregate here before going into dinner in the adjoining Dining Room, whilst admiring portraits by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
David Teniers II's A Village Wake on St. George's Day
Introduce some festivity to your next virtual cocktail hour with Teniers large oil painting depicting villagers celebrating the spring festival of the Saint: drinking, dancing and feasting. David Teniers the younger was best known as the leading Flemish genre painter of his day, his scenes almost invariably depicted boisterous, and drunken, celebrations in rural villages.
Francesco Guardi's The Bacino di San Marco with the Molo and the Doge's Palace, Venice
Why not call into your next video meeting from the wonderfully atmospheric waterways of 18th century Venice. This painting and its companion (The Bacino di San Marco with the Churches of San Giorgio Maggiori and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice) are the largest known works by Francesco Guardi. They are early examples of the real and idealised views of Venice with which he made his reputation. This scene encapsulates the bustling nature of life looking across the Bacino di San Marco towards Saint Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace.
Bring the outdoors in with the impressive Parterre, a French-inspired formal garden. It is a symmetrical pattern of densely-planted beds, ornamented with sculpture and set off by mown grass, neat paths and low clipped hedges. It is usually designed to be seen from above, in our case from the raised terrace and the main reception rooms and bedrooms on the south side of the Manor.
Imagine you're listening to birdsong with the Aviary as your backdrop. Filled with colourful and exotic birds, it was a must-see for Baron Ferdinands guests when doing a tour of the garden in the 1890s. Baron Ferdinand was particularly fond of the birds, which would be taken out of their enclosures to be fed with treats by him. The Aviary is now a registered zoo, and plays an important part in conservation, breeding endangered species for return to their natural habitats.
All the backdrops can be downloaded for free, here