Creating the new Europe 1600–1800 Galleries

The V&A’s collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design is unrivalled in its range and quality. The Europe 1600–1800 Project will see the renovation, redisplay and reinterpretation of the seven prime galleries dedicated to this period. In these posts, the Project Team take you behind the scenes, providing an insight into the challenges, developments and discoveries involved in a major gallery project.

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Born on This Day: Augustin Pajou

The celebrated French sculptor Augustin Pajou was a contemporary of Clodion, Houdon and Pigalle but is today (despite his obvious skill!) not as well known outside of France as he perhaps should be. Born on 19th September 1730, Pajou grew up in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, then one of the poorer sections of Paris, the son […]

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Steel buttons: Coup de Bouton, etching by William Humphrey, c. 1777. Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

The Brown Suit: Coup de Bouton!

In my last post I mentioned how ‘Anglomania’ influenced the adoption of darker colours for men’s daytime clothing among the middle and upper classes in late 18th-century France. This move towards a more somber palette brought about a dependency on buttons to create the maximum sartorial impact. A basic rule often seeming to be ‘the […]

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The upper-body of the suit, shown as it would have been worn with a cravat around the neck.

The Brown Suit: Anglomania

As well as unintentionally illustrating David Bowie’s svelte Berlin-era figure (see previous post!), this wonderful brown suit also exemplifies staple day-wear fashions for the middle and upper classes in late 18th-century Europe. Its slim-fit, noticeably snug across the upper-body, and the height of the coat collar attest to the owner’s fashionable taste. The breeches reach over the […]

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Heroes album cover shoot, 1977, photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita, courtesy the David Bowie Archive

The Brown Suit: “Don’t you wonder sometimes, ’bout sound and vision?”

The other week I found myself in the Textile Conservation studios, a microphone in front of me, contemplating how much sweat may have soaked into a coat. I should quickly make it clear that it wasn’t a coat being worn by a perspiring colleague, but rather a very smart wool coat dating from the 1780s. […]

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Born on this Day: Charles-Louis Clérisseau

  Today our moment of ‘birthday-prompted’ attention is focused upon the artist, architectural draughtsman and antiquary Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-180). Clérisseau has been described as creating a vital link in the chain of architectural excellence that prevailed in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. He was sent to study at the French Academy in Rome in 1749, where he worked with […]

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Researching & Writing a Gallery Book: The Pains of Editing

Today we have a second guest post from Kirsty, a student on placement from the University of Glasgow. Another aspect of my research for the gallery book concentrated on the shops and guilds which were a major aspect of commerce in the eighteenth century. I chose to look at a mixture of source material. One of the […]

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Born on This Day: Frederick V

Given the attention I paid to his wife’s birthday last week (‘The Winter Queen’ Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia), it would be rather remiss of me to not note that today marks 418 years since the birth of Frederick V. He will be gracing us with his presence in the Europe Galleries in the form of […]

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World Dog Day

Given the attention I gave to ‘Museum Cat Day’ last month, I felt that it was necessary for me to even up the feline – canine representation on the blog as today is World Dog Day. The day’s title doesn’t include the word ‘museum’, I’ll grant you, but I do still have quite the pack […]

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Meissen woodpecker, Johann Joachim Kändler, Meissen porcelain factory  Germany. ca. 1740-1745. V&A C.1-1984

Researching & Writing a Gallery Book: Luxury Goods & Eyewitness Reports

Guest Post from Kirsty:   A change of voice for the blog this time, I’m Kirsty, a student on placement from the University of Glasgow. I’ve been working on the Europe Galleries project for a month. My main interest is 18th-century history, and I’ve studied it at university, so it’s been a great opportunity to […]

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Born on This Day: ‘The Winter Queen’ Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia

This day in 1596 saw the birth of Princess Elizabeth Stuart. Daughter of Anne of Denmark and James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), Elizabeth was the sister of Charles I of England and later became Queen of Bohemia. Elizabeth will have a visible presence in the new Europe Galleries in the form […]

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