The Paston Treasure

Contributed by Norwich Castle Museum

An oil painting of objects collected from around the world by the Paston family. © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

The Paston Treasure is one of the most important depictions of a schatzkammer (cabinet of treasures - Wunderkammer = wonders) in the history of British collecting. It is a record of the magnificent collections once held at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk, home of the Paston family. It is from the Dutch School, painted between1666-69.

Apart from its visual beauty and thematic complexity, its importance lies in the international scope and interest of the objects portrayed. William Paston was well travelled for his time and the collection includes objects reflecting both exotic nature and the skills of man. The artefacts come from around the known world in the mid 17th century - Asia, Africa, America and Europe. These include sculptures and gems, as well as gold, silver, enamel and natural history specimens. Also depicted is a young slave, the earliest known portrait of an African in Norfolk by almost 200 years.

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