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New private museum set to open in Adelaide housing one of the greatest decorative arts collections in Australia
Charles Percier and Pierre-François Léonard Fontaine, designers of base, Clemente Ciuli, mosaicist, Centre table, c.1810, France and Italy, mahogany, gilt bronze mounts, micro-mosaic top, inlaid marble border; The David Roche Foundation, Adelaide, South Australia.

ADELAIDE.- More than 3,000 magnificent pieces of decorative and fine art, spanning two centuries of European design, from the early Rococo of France to Faberge in Russia will go on display in its entirety for the first time when the new David Roche Foundation House Museum in North Adelaide opens its new museum to the public in June 2016.

The new museum, designed by Adelaide firm Williams Burton Leopardi Architects & Interior Design, will house the world-class personal collection of the late David Roche, a devoted collector, who spent his life acquiring the finest of porcelains, painting and furnishings after acquiring his first antique at the age of 17.

The David Roche Foundation House Museum, located in North Adelaide’s Melbourne Street, will be comprised of David Roche’s former home, Fermoy House and a new, state-of-the-art adjoining $5million building recently completed to house the exceptional private art collection. Objects in the collection are presented in an opulent manner reminiscent of how David Roche lived in Fermoy House, whilst the museum’s new contemporary building houses an exhibition space that will present curated and thematic presentations of the collection.

Martyn Cook, Director of the David Roche Foundation House Museum and a personal friend of the late David Roche for almost 30 years, said: David, who spent his life on a quest to find the perfect object, would be absolutely delighted to know that his dream of a purpose built museum incorporating the house where he lived in North Adelaide since 1954, is now a reality and the joy he experienced from his collection can now be shared with people from across Australia.

Acquiring wonderful works of decorative art was his greatest passion. This passion took David all over the world so he could collect the best pieces possible. When he was about to add something to his collection, David would know exactly where it should be placed in his home. He was meticulous on where his works should be housed. All these ‘treasures’ gave David great pleasure up until the end of his life in 2013.

Rarely did a day go by without David adding another ‘essential’ piece to his collection. We hope that when we open our new museum in June that visitors will leave having found a favourite piece to remember. This is a collection of national and indeed, international significance added Martyn Cook.

David Roche once said that he was hesitant about setting up a Foundation. It took much persuasion for me to believe that my little collection was good enough to do more than give me pleasure. It was visits to small, now famous, collections such as the Mario Praz Collection in Rome that made me think it might be possible. Eventually convinced, I set out as never before to upgrade the collection to the point where I was happy and not reticent about sharing what I had assembled.

David Roche Foundation House Museum Director Martyn Cook added: David Roche always feared that no matter what he had, that someone, somewhere would have a far better example. In reality, the collection which he amassed, is one of the finest collections of its type; the furniture, porcelain, clocks and textiles all reflect his prerequisite for quality, notable makers and if possible a provenance to royalty and aristocracy.

The collection’s great strengths lie in European decorative arts: furniture, metalware ceramics and clocks of remarkable quality. The collection also includes paintings as well as smaller objects of interest and rarity. The focus of the collection is European neoclassical design of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some of the highlights from the David Roche collection include:

A Charles Percier and Pierre-Francois Fontaine designed Table, c.1810; likely made by Jacob-Desmalter, supplier to the Napoleonic court. A monumental glass Russian Vase on pedestal, c.1830. A Louis Moinet Urn clock, c.1810, known as the ‘Gossip’ clock for Prince Ernst August of Hanover. Robert-Jacques Lefèvre, Anatole Demidoff, 1820, in his adulthood he became one of the primary collectors of the eighteenth-century. This was acquired from Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia. A Durs Egg Flintlock pistol, c.1800, one of a pair presented to Napoleon in 1802 by English military commander, Colonel Thomas Thornton. French Commode, c.1820, owned by His Grace the 1st Duke of Wellington, for his Stratfield Saye House, Hampshire, England. A portrait of Catherine the Great, late 18th century, attributed to court painter Johann Baptist Lampi. An English Secrétaire a abattant (Fall-front desk), c.1805, designed in the French Imperial manner and gifted by Prince Poniatowski to Sarah Countess of Jersey.

Also included in the collection is a pair of exquisite porcelain jars from China’s Qing dynasty, Kangxi period of 1662-1722 and extremely rare plates from the Meissen, Tournai, Sevres, Furstenberg, Zurich, Worcester and Chelsea porcelain factories.

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