Victoria and Albert Museum

The world’s greatest museum of art and design

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Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings

Most often when we read about the history of it records the achievements of male artists. However from early on there have also been women artists. In Book XXXV of his Natural History Pliny the Elder (AD 25-AD 79) describes a number of women artists including Timarete of Athens (5th century BC) and Iaia or Lala of Cyzicus (active circa 116-1127 BC). A number of women have also played significant...
Some prints in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum have been embellished by their early owners through the addition of inscriptions in pen and ink. This last part of ‘Cutting, colouring and inscribing’ looks at different examples of writing on some of these prints. These give an insight into the past lives of both these prints and their owners.Figure 1V&A inventory...
In the second part of three blogs looking at past intervention to ornament engravings this entry considers enlivening prints through the application of colour.Prints are commonly a monotone medium. From the early days of printing there has been an interest in producing coloured images. One way this is achieved is through colouring a black and white engraving or etching. Some ornament prints were...
Produced as designs for the decorative arts, from early on ornament prints also appealed to collectors. In some cases these prints, intended to inspire designs from artists and craftsmen, appear to have inspired their past owners to embellish or change their form. The next three blog posts will investigate some embellishments made by previous owners through the cutting, colouring and inscribing...
As discussed in the previous blog entry by the seventeenth century printmakers were displaying their technical mastery through combining engraving and blackwork in their plates. This was soon followed in the second decade of the seventeenth century with new developments to create tonal modelling and a more feathery style.Figure 1Esaias van HulsenPlate from a suite of 6 designs for goldsmith...
The characteristic style of early blackwork prints incorporates sixteenth-century scrollwork, strapwork and arabesque motifs into an ornamental hybrid known as Schweifwerk or ‘tailwork’, recognisable by its curving lines terminating in tails. By the seventeenth century these forms develop into a more spontaneous flourish, often combining motifs taken from nature.Figure 1Daniel...
van Ghemert Design for a ring shoulder and bezel, Netherlands 1585
The next three blog posts will look at blackwork prints. Developed at the end of the sixteenth-century this technique was used by a number of engravers producing ornament prints. This first blog post will consider the origins, early style and uses of blackwork engravings.In the last decades of the sixteenth century a new technique of ornament engraving evolved. These prints are known as ‘...
Figure 1: V&A inventory number 29876.4Juan Dolívar after Jean Bérain the ElderPossibly after a tapestry design by Jean Bérain the Elder1685-1693 Every year around Valentine’s Day images of Cupid begin to appear on cards and in shops advertising gifts to buy for our loved ones.Known as Eros in Greek mythology and Amor in Roman mythology, Cupid comes from the Latin ‘Cupido’,...
The evolution of print publishing around the end of the fifteenth century is closely intertwined with the development of ornament engravings and their role as designs for the decorative arts. The possibility of producing multiple impressions and the transportability of prints facilitated the wider distribution of these designs. However there are some works in the V&A collection that suggest...
A number of ornament engravings in the V&A collection dating to the 16th- and 17th centuries by Dutch and Flemish printmakers including Nicolaes de Bruyn, Anton Wierex, Jan Sadeler, and Theodor de Bry incorporate still life motifs. V&A inventory number 24359.9Theodor de Bry, Mustapha Bassa, Illustration to 'Vitae et icones Sultanorum turcicorum' by Jean-Jacques Boissard, 1596...

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