Richard Mulholland

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‘for I have too much preferred the picturesque to the beautifull…’: Looking at Constable’s watercolour sketches

View over hilly country, with a stormy sky

Whenever I’ve thought of John Constable, I’ve always thought of a long tradition, starting with Dutch landscape painters, a painter, where you could walk straight into the scene and join the horses wading through the river or sit under a bow of a tree and gaze at the view of Salisbury Cathedral.

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An Unknown Sketch by Constable

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V&A Paintings Conservators Nicola Costaras and Clare Richardson have discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by John Constable in the V&A’s collection. The original sketch, ‘Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead’, had been glued to a canvas lining at some stage before it came into the V&A’s collection in 1888, completely obscuring the sketch on the other side. Suspecting that […]

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Play it Again SAM: Replicating Cybernetic Sculpture using 3D Printing

SAM proto thumb

There are a number of examples of sculptures created in the 20th century using synthetic materials that have already degraded to a point where conservation is unfeasible (and sometimes even impossible). This can also be the case where where works have been made with electronic components that have become obsolete and impossible to replace. In these contexts, […]

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Just in time for Halloween: A disembodied skull comes to the studio

skull

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, and as such, one might surmise that its conservation department would not have to deal with the issues surrounding human remains. That said, the theatre and performance collection at the V&A contains a number of unusual objects, one of them being this somewhat macabre […]

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Auspicious Visitors:Working with Chinese paintings (with a little help from the British Museum)

Working with the British Museum Chinese paintings conservators

Destined to be an iconic exhibition, Masterpieces of Chinese Paintings 700-1900 will open this week to a public eager to see some of the most remarkable examples of Chinese painting from 1200 years of tradition. Detail from ‘Nine Dragons’,  Chen Rong, 1244, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Photograph © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. […]

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This Week’s Post: Free From Arsenic

Morris pattern book

It seems that V&A Conservation are in favour at the BBC at the moment. This week, V&A Senior Paper Conservator Susan Catcher is featured on the BBC Four documentary, Fabric of Britain: The Story of Wallpaper, talking about the difficulties (and dangers) of treating wallpaper containing arsenic. Death by Wallpaper? Prior to the late 18th […]

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Rubies and Weasel’s Teeth: Reconstructing Nicholas Hilliard

Hilliard. Elizabeth I

A few weeks ago, the art historian and presenter James Fox (A History of Art in Three Colours, British Masters) came by the conservation department to film a segment for ‘A Very British Rennaissance‘, a new documentary series to be shown next year on BBC 2. He came to discuss the materials and methods used […]

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David Bowie Is… Moving on.

Bowie packing

David Bowie Is… finally closed its doors on Sunday 11 August. By the day of opening back in March, pre-booked tickets had reached over 67,000, and when the doors closed for the last time at South Kensington, a record 311,000 visitors had seen the exhibition. But David Bowie – always an artist to keep moving […]

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Rebinding ‘The Emperor’s Pearls’

winter hat 1700 small

‘The Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty’. Beijing, 1772. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Aside from the titular precious stones, the upcoming Pearls exhibition will also feature a lavishly illustrated 18th century Chinese book. Known as ‘The Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty, the book is known to have been […]

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Conservation and Mounting of a Chinese Export Wallpaper Panel

Merryl wallpaper

Paper Conservators at the V&A are responsible for everything from minute portrait miniature paintings to enormous printed posters. Historic wallpapers also come under their remit, and the V&A has an extremely fine collection. As part of a series of posts on new displays for the British Galleries, Senior Paper Conservator, Susan Catcher explains the processes […]

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