Nancy's Favorite Things

Written By Judy Ross

Posted 02/15/13

Updated 02/15/13

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As you admire the architecture, art, and sculpture that makes Biltmore House so amazing, consider for a moment all the work that goes into restoring, conserving, and preserving this special place. We checked with one employee who’s deeply involved in maintaining the beauty of Biltmore’s collection for her favorite thing—please check back next week for another insider’s favorite!

Nancy Rosebrock, Chief Conservator, is trained in the conservation of furniture and gilded objects. She came to Biltmore 14 years ago and is the manager of the Conservation and Collections Management staff. bronze cain candlesticks silhouette

Her teams are integral parts of the ongoing restoration and preservation work that keeps Biltmore looking like it did when the Vanderbilts called it home. You’ve seen the results of their incredible work in every part of Biltmore House, from the Louis XV Room with its gilded mirror and sconces to the exhibition in the Second Floor Living Hall focusing on our preservation efforts.

With Nancy’s attention to detail, it’s not surprising that her favorite objects are a pair of bronze candelabra in the Oak Sitting Room that tell a story—if you stop to look at them with a careful eye. “They are a study of the precariousness of life,” she said. 

Created by sculptor Auguste Nicholas Cain, the bronze pieces skillfully portray animals; the base is formed from snails, complete with tiny bronze antennae. On one candelabrum, a mother bird is feeding her babies. On the other, a rat balances on a limb above a nest, about to take the baby birds for its next meal.

The candelabra are part of Biltmore’s collection of bronzes created by les Animaliers, a 19th-century French school of art named for the artists’ naturalistic portrayals of animals. George Vanderbilt acquired about 20 works from les Animaliers, including the striking Hippogriff in the Entrance Hall by Antoine-Louise Barye.

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