Ruth Hibbard

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A Feast Fit for the Last Tsar

When Nicholas II was crowned as Tsar in an elaborate coronation ceremony on 26 May 1896 he was not to know that his abdication in 1917 would end the Romanov dynasty that had ruled since 1613. In the Prints and Drawings collection we have a memento from Nicholas’ coronation – a beautifully decorated menu from […]

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Identifying Friends and Enemies in Soviet Russia

The V&A’s display ‘Another Russia: Post-Soviet Printmaking’ features work made by Russian artists after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 when art was no longer strictly controlled by the government. For most of the 20th century, art in Russia was used for propaganda and expressing the ideology of the state. In the 1920s, […]

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A New Line from South Kensington to Bexhill on Sea

Some exhibitions really do stem from a casual chat between curators over drinks. About a year ago, a curator from the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill on the south coast was talking about their plans to celebrate their iconic 1930s Modernist building to an NAL curator. Our curator mentioned a collection of material in […]

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Where to put your lowly medieval bottom

In my previous blog we saw how chairs are used as signs of power and status. In this blog I will look at other types of seat on which to place on your (more lowly) medieval bottom Medieval houses were generally sparsely furnished so it is not surprising that very few examples of medieval furniture […]

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The Real Game of Thrones – Medieval Seats of Power

Fans of Games of Thrones know how impressive an important seat of power can be. This is also true in medieval manuscripts where images of thrones feature often when depicting earthly and heavenly rulers. You don’t, however, always need a fancy throne like the Iron Throne of Westeros to show your importance; any chair with […]

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Easier to read than ‘War and Peace’ – Tolstoy’s tales for children

The nation is gripped by the BBC’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic novel ‘War and Peace’. For some this is their first introduction to the work of Tolstoy but for Russian children he is one of the first authors they meet, through the many stories and educational books he wrote for them.   Although born into […]

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A Shifting Snow Maiden

Anyone with small children will know that snow maidens have had a resurgence in popularity in the last few years thanks to a certain ubiquitous Disney film, but this is only the latest in a long history of snowy maidens in folk and fairy stories. In this blog I’m going to look at the Russian […]

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Getting To The Point Of Medieval Shoes

The V&A’s new Shoes exhibition showcases some of the craziest trends in footwear throughout history. One of my favourites is this extremely long-toed Medieval shoe from the Museum of London. In my previous post about ostentatious medieval headdresses I wrote about using manuscripts as a source for images of clothing, so couldn’t resist having a […]

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What to wear when you don’t have a halo

Sometimes, when looking through medieval manuscripts, it seems that everyone is wearing a halo – page after page of holy families, saints and virgin martyrs! This beautiful image of Saint Agnes (with her lamb) has beautiful flowing hair, a shimmering halo, and a heavenly crown. But a mere mortal woman could not copy this look. […]

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Here be Dragons

When we think of the Middle Ages we often imagine a world full of knights, castles and, of course, dragons. Sightings of dragons appear periodically in medieval chronicles such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of AD.793 which mentions ‘dreadful fore-warnings…whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament”. This 15th century illustrated version of Pliny’s ‘Natural History’ […]

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