Sarah Grant

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Ornament prints and contemporary art

Gombrich observed that ‘every picture owes more to other pictures painted before than it owes to nature’[1]. Designers and artists have often looked to the past for inspiration and ornament prints from all periods can be an unparalleled resource in this exercise.

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Elizabeth Taylor – Jewellery and Ornament

You may have noticed some of the press recently making the rounds for the sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels (among other parts of her collection). Looking at the lots on offer one wonders how such a petite woman ever managed tomove around so enormous are the carat weights of some of the stones. One of my favourite galleries at the V&A is the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery. If you ever have a case of Holly Golightly’s mean reds, the spiral display of rings here will cheer you up in no time. It’s all too easy to hold up …

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What is ornament, what is an ornament print and why do they matter?

Ornament is decoration or embellishment. It is any additional detail added to an object, interior or architectural structure which serves no other purpose than to make it more interesting, arresting or beautiful to us. Take this Sèvres soup plate for instance. The richly painted and gilded decoration adds absolutely nothing to the function of the plate, but the effect is certainly more interesting than a plain white plate. Catherine the Great evidently thought so too, as she had the service to which this plate belongs re-designed eight times before she felt it was quite right. An ornament print is a …

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