Exploring the DAVID ROCHE Collection

On a recent trip to visit clients in South Australia, we took the opportunity to again view the incredible David Roche Collection. This is not the first time we’ve attended the house museum, for so blown away were we by the quality and provenance of what lies within its walls, that we find ousrselves returning repeatedly on each trip south.

Where and what is The DAVID ROCHE Collection?

Nestled in the heart of Adelaide on Melbourne Street, lies one of the most spectacular collections of 18th and 19th century Regency and Empire antique furniture and collective arts in Australia – a testament to the lifetime passion and dedication of collector David Roche. The David Roche Collection is not just a museum, but a home, and an incredible journey through the life, history and loves of a talented connoisseur and a visual barrage of exquisite antiques, paintings, and objet d’art.

For those who have not had the good fortune to see the museum yet, stepping through the doors of the collection is like entering another era and one could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the rooms of a French or English aristocrat. Fermoy House is filled to bursting with some 3000 pieces of 18th and 19th century decorative arts, most originating from Britain, France and Russia in the Rococo, Empire, Regency and Neoclassical styles.

Around each corner is revealed another extraordinary piece of the past and each with exceptional provenance. With the assistance of well known Australian antique dealer, the late Martyn Cook, over the course of 60 years, David compiled a collection that rivals some of the finest examples of cabinetmaking in the world.

What can I expect to see in The DAVID ROCHE Collection?

It is difficult to pinpoint favourites as the collection is so extensive, however if we must narrow some of them down, our own personal favourites include (as seen left to right in the gallery below):

  • The important pair of Italian Chinoiserie Mars and Minerva polychrome painted vitrines located in the French themed drawing room decorated by Angus Foulds;
  • Giacomo Quarenghi’s pair of Hercules armchairs, c. 1790;
  • The extraordinarily beautiful centre table in the Roman Room surrounded by marble statuary by Charles Summers and a beautifully carved pair of Regency X-frame stools by Thomas Hope;
  • The most magnificent Percier and Fontaine centre table, c. 1810 with Ciuli mosaic

For the art lover and historian there is no shortage of notable artworks and clocks from Cartier to Faberge and for those who appreciate Chinoiserie, Regency and Empire inspired interiors, there is no shortage of inspiration here, with fabrics and trims from Lelievre, Le Manac and De Clerc.

Legacy of The David Roche Collection

What struck me most about the collection however, was the bravery of a collector who was not afraid to pursue what he loved. Here is a man who understood the power of the past and the need to preserve and protect it. We saw a collection representative of the finest skills that the 18th and 19th century had to offer in terms of cabinetmaking and quality. As we left this extraordinary exhibition, we couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of gratitude to David Roche, for his vision and passion which has produced the Foundation of DAVID ROCHE as it stands today. A legacy and a wonderful reminder of the enduring power of art to transcend time and captivate the imagination and how generous he was in leaving it for us all to enjoy.

It is well worth travelling to Adelaide to see The David Roche collection. We will be returning soon ourselves.

Click here to view The DAVID ROCHE website.

(All images courtesy of The David Roche Foundation.)