Sarah Beattie

I'm a Cataloguer in the Word and Image department, working on making our vast collection more accessible to the public. I love the variety of objects that I come across in my work, and look forward to sharing my favourites on the blog.

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The owls are not what they seem…


While on the lookout for spooky creatures to blog about for Halloween I noticed something curious – why are there so many owls in the Word and Image collection? It soon became clear that most of them were donated by the same man, Walter Strachan, but this raised more questions – who was he, how did his collection […]

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Living the high life in Hackney

Coloured woodcut by an unknown artist, c. 1811. Museum no. E.4766-1923

  This colourful print of a hot-air balloon flight caught my eye while I was cataloguing a collection of prints and drawings relating to Hackney and other East London boroughs. As it happens to be the 204th anniversary of the event depicted, it seemed the perfect opportunity to share the story. James Sadler (1753-1828) was […]

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Unsung Artists : May Morris (1862-1938)

Photograph of May Morris by Frederick Hollyer

One of the best things about working on the Factory project is the range of different artists and designers that we come across while cataloguing. The V&A’s collection of works on paper is huge (741,000 objects and counting!) and amongst the famous names like Constable and Raphael, there are a wealth of fascinating and talented […]

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Stained Glass on Paper: Morris & Co. and the Pre-Raphaelites

The finished panel. Museum no. C.317-1927.

[Stained glass] is a very limited art and its limitations are its strength. (Edward Burne-Jones, 1897) The qualities needed in the design […] are beauty and character of outline; exquisite, clear, precise drawing of incident. (William Morris, 1890) In my previous post, I looked at some early stained glass designs, and mentioned how the established techniques […]

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Stained Glass on Paper: Medieval and Renaissance Designs

Design for a stained glass window, pen and ink and red chalk drawing by Hans Baldung Grun, German, ca. 1508.

If you’ve ever wandered the corridors of the V&A, you’ve probably come across the dazzling Sacred Silver and Stained Glass gallery (if not, I definitely recommend a visit!). This is one of my favourite rooms in the museum, both for the beautiful effects produced by the changing light at different times of day and year, […]

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Victorian Valentines

Are you looking forward to Valentine’s Day? I ask because this is one of the few holidays the mention of which is as likely to be met with a snort of derision as a sigh of anticipation. As Valentine’s Day is often accused of being a so-called ‘Hallmark holiday’, invented (or at least perpetuated) by […]

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