Richard Mulholland

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Painting by Numbers?: An 18th Century Flower Show

Ferdinand Bauer, Iris Germanicus, watercolour on paper (MS. Sherard 245/70) © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford 2015

As the Chelsea Flower Show draws to a conclusion tomorrow, and the masses return to their own gardens inspired, it’s worth looking back to the 18th century, to the golden age of botanical exploration and to an artist who was arguably the finest botanical painter in history – Ferdinand Bauer –  and how expertise at […]

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Constable’s Quill

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Did Constable use a steel nibbed pen? a reed, or a quill for his ink drawings? Sometimes, preparing the prints, drawings and paintings for an exhibition gives us a good opportunity to start to ponder these kinds of questions… Looking at the back of Constable’s Study of Poppies (Paintings Conservation interns, Arabella and Morgan talked about this work in our […]

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Constable sketches up close and personal

Swirls of colour under the micoscopeshows Constable's alla prima technique. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Our dynamic Paintings Conservation interns, Arabella and Morgan have been lucky enough to work on some of our Constable oil sketches this week for the upcoming Constable: Making of a Master exhibition. We’ve posted recently on our discovery of an unknown Constable sketch that was hidden by an old lining, so of course preparing the rest of the sketches for exhibition gave Arabella and Morgan another […]

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A Spring Cleaning in Paintings Conservation

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This week’s guest post, written by Arabella Peaver and Morgan Wylder, describes the conservation of a painting by John Frederick Herring. With only a few weeks until the V&A’s Constable exhibition opens to the public, some of the Constable paintings normally on display in our paintings galleries will be relocated to the exhibition. This offers a great opportunity for us to have some […]

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Analysing Chinese Export Paintings


The V&A’s Conservation Science department has been working on a collection of Chinese export paintings, looking closely at the materials that the artists used and trying to uncover the secrets of an important part of the history of Britain in China. Sonia Bellesia, former intern in the Conservation Science section explains more… Originally sold as souvenirs to Western merchants […]

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Bad Karma? Looking at Jain Paintings

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I’m fascinated by the V&A’s collection of Jain paintings. Examining them closely, understanding how they were created is fascinating. The manuscripts were originally collected by the V&A for their visual appeal, rather than as religious documents. However, they are also of significant religious and cultural value to the Jain community. Mehool Sanghrajka, current Director of Education at the […]

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1059-1882 vadar

An army of curators and conservators have spent countless hours working on objects that will end up on display in the refurbished Europe 1600-1800 galleries later this year. One of the objects needing some attention is this table by David Roentgen. Before work could begin to clean and conserve the table, it was examined by […]

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Playing with dolls?


As part of my Heritage Lottery Fund/Institute of Conservation Internship at the V&A, I’ve been working with Furniture Conservation preparing ‘Small Stories: Dolls Houses and the History of the Home’ , an exhibition that opens at the Museum of Childhood later in the year. The V&A Museum of Childhood has a collection of around 100 […]

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Spicing things up!


One of the more unusual activities for us in the conservation department this week was to restore damage to Laurent Mareschal’s Jameel Prize installation ‘Beiti’. The curious fingers of a member of the public (undoubtedly interested in confirming that Mareschal’s intriguing tiled floor pattern was in fact made with spice and not ceramic tiles) had […]

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Definitely not ‘Point-and-Click’: Photographing the Raphael Cartoons in 1858.


In one of the V&A’s stores, kept particularly cold to preserve them, are a collection of rather unusual photographic works that I have been intrigued by for some years. They are twelve collodion glass plate negatives made in 1858 by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816—1868), the V&A’s first photographer. These negatives were used to document the […]

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