Waddesdon manor

The art of storing and unveiling

‘Put beauty first and what you get will be used forever,’ said Roger Scruton in his BBC documentary Why Beauty Matters. The philosopher’s neat elision of beauty and utility is perfectly embodied by Étienne Maurice Falconet’s nymph, who is to be the star of a forthcoming lecture by Waddesdon Manor curator Juliet Carey. This small marble figure would be far less remarkable were it not for the elegance of the 19th-century wooden box in which she is housed. Exquisite, flesh-like pillows of chamois fill the space around the nymph’s form: the box and the sculpture seem at one, as though locked in a dance. The nymph has been stored this way