The Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World


23 June - 23 September 2018


Free with admission price



Disabled visitors / Blue Badge parking / Parking / Dogs / Multi-sensory / Virtual tours / Audio enscribed / Braille / Staff on hand 

Opening times:

Mon  Sat: 10am – 4.30pm 
Sun: 1 – 4.30pm 

The Paston Treasure:  Riches and rarities of the known world

23 June – 23 September 2018

This beautiful exhibition explores the world of the seventeenth century from the vantage point of a single masterpiece, The Paston Treasure.  This work survives as a record of a lost art collection, owned by the Paston family at their Norfolk country house, Oxnead Hall, at the height of their wealth and fame.  These magnificent artefacts, gold and silver, pictures and precious stones, gathered from around the known world, made Oxnead Hall a true treasure house during this period.

The Pastons’ wealth was short-lived: within fifty years of the picture being painted, they were bankrupt, their collection sold and Oxnead abandoned.  Their works of art are now dispersed worldwide, but the surviving treasures from the painting, and others once in the Paston collection have returned to Norfolk to be reunited with the picture for the first time in three centuries.

Our unique painting is internationally famous, not just as a typical still life, but as the key to unlock a dramatic and ultimately tragic story: of a family, a collection, and a great house.  The first clues to the story are in this painting. They open up a world we never knew existed, and we have made many new discoveries.

This once in a lifetime exhibition is the result of years of research, undertaken jointly with the Yale Center for British Art.

Pictured above, left to right:

  • Mounted nautilus cup, unknown artist, c1630–60, silver-gilt - Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Mounted rock crystal jug, unknown makers, 1557-8, silver-gilt and rock crystal - Schroder Collection
  • Mounted strombus shell cup, attributed to the workshop of Stephen Pilcherd and Anthony Hatch, London, ca. 1660, © Norfolk Museums Service
  • Medusa cameo ring, unknown artist, S Germany, c.1580, gold, white agate, enamel, Victoria and Albert Museum, Salting Bequest, M.555-1910. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Mounted rock crystal jug, unknown makers, probably Sasanian Empire, perhaps Pakistan, late antique or early medieval (crystal), London, 1557-8 (silver-gilt mounts), silver-gilt and rock crystal - Schroder Collection
  • Lottery Funded
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Norwich Business Improvement District
  • Norwich County Council
  • University of East Anglia
  • Yale Center for British Art