Creating the new Europe 1600–1815 Galleries

The V&A’s collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design is unrivalled in its range and quality. The Europe 1600–1815 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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Installing the period rooms

Art Referee’s report by M. Digby Wyatt, 22 April 1869 (V&A Archive of Art and Design: MA/3/31)

The first objects to be installed into the Europe galleries were the period rooms, which are now all fully built. There are three period rooms in the galleries – a 17th-century painted French room, a late 18th-century Italian mirrored cabinet and a late 18th-century Parisian cabinet. When the old galleries were de-installed, each of these […]

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Drinking to the Shoemakers

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With Shoes: Pleasure and Pain now in full swing, I thought it was about time to raise a drink to the shoemakers of 17th and 18th century Europe! Across Europe, drinking alcohol was deemed essential for the good health and harmony of society at all levels. Rituals, such as toasting and drinking games, were performed […]

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A Proud and Posturing Great-Grandfather

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Images of Louis XIV played an important role in celebrating, commemorating and promoting his power. Many survive on decorative objects, charting his life from cradle to grave. Almanacs (a type of calendar) were often used to depict the heroic exploits of Louis and his family with illustrations and verses depicting wars, royal weddings and births […]

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Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

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Today marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, which was fought on Sunday 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium. The battle saw Napoleon and his French army defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition -comprising of an Anglo-allied army, commanded by the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army commanded by Gebhard […]

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Golden Glitter: Recreating the aventurine speckles on the Dresden Cabinet

Gently heating the film with a hairdryer to soften it ©Tristram Bainbridge

Today’s post comes from Tristram Bainbridge, Furniture Conservator, who has been working on this eye-catching 18th-century writing cabinet for display in the new Europe Galleries. The cabinet will feature in the Fantasies display, which explores fashionable Europeans’ fascination with Chinese and Japanese imagery and the resulting hybrid style that became known by the French term […]

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The Curious Case of the Ox and its Brain

60-1882

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Head of an ox; Marble statue of the head of an ox on a tree trunk, (North Italy) probably Padua, about 1650-1700
Padua
2nd half 17th century
Marble and wood.
In a report dated 6 February 2015, analysis of the wood identified it as an alpine pine, probably Pinus cembra.

Today’s post is simply to express my glee at seeing new photographs of what will be one the galleries’ more unusual inhabitants. This late 17th-century sculpture depicts the head of an ox, in white marble, resting on a section of a tree trunk that was carved from a number of pieces of wood. The skull […]

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In Memory of Toussaint Louverture

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The 20th of May marked 272 years since the revolutionary François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), was born into bondage in Haiti, the French island colony then known as Saint-Domingue (Santo Domingo). I was interested to read that in 2015 this date saw the unveiling of a new statue in memory of Toussaint Louverture, in the courtyard […]

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Beneath the Surface of Europe 1600-1800 at Photo London

E.10-2015

Photograph
Visitor Figures, out-takes from the V&A Annual Report, 2013/14; Photograph by Nigel Shafran from the series 'Visitor Figures, out-takes from the V&A Annual Report, 2013/14'
Nigel Shafran (1964-)
Victoria and Albert Museum
2013

Taking advantage of the Bank Holiday, the other day I went to take a leisurely look around Photo London, the international photography fair taking place at Somerset House. Whilst wandering among wondrous examples of photography, stretching back to the earliest days of its development (pardon the pun) and experimentation, I found myself suddenly confronted by Europe 1600-1800. […]

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Born on This Day: Ole Worm – collector extraordinaire

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‘… [your] name and glory is not only renowned among one people and nation, but across the earth, wherever scientific and learned studies are practised and honoured.’ These rather adulatory words were penned to describe today’s ‘born on this day’ star, Ole Worm, the Danish physician, professor, antiquary, and collector extraordinaire born in 1588. As well as […]

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Lighting up the Studio

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Last week a colleague mysteriously encouraged me to pop my head into the Photo Studio, for a ‘nice surprise’. Not knowing quite what to expect, I arrived to find Metalwork Curator Kirstin and Senior Metals Conservator Donna in the final stages of assembling the rather stunning chandelier which will be part of our Louis XIV display. To enable […]

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