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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Easter Egg Hunt in the Europe Galleries

Never one to pass up on linking the Europe Galleries to celebrated dates in the calender, this Easter Sunday I thought we should go on a festive egg hunt through the Europe 1600-1800 Galleries. The rabbits in Andrew Pitcairn-Knowles’ photograph below may be 100 years too late to feature in the galleries, and 100 years […]

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The Rejected Divorce Gift & The Egyptian Pharaoh

To return to Napoleon’s marital affairs, today I’d like to introduce a great example of French porcelain from the Empire Period, that was part of a divorce gift rejected by Empress Josephine. This dinner plate will feature in a display demonstrating how Napoleon made the decorative and fine arts central to his new image and how […]

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Mini-Museum of Cardboard Curiosities

Over the past months a small museum of sorts has developed on the shelf behind my desk. The objects can’t really be described as examples of incredible craftsmanship, but they have proven to be extremely valuable in developing our displays. Nestled alongside my glamorous helmet and safety boots (needed for visiting the galleries whilst under-construction) are […]

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We Have Fans … Boxes, Canes & Eclairs(!)

        ‘Fans can express desires, at times even speak themselves; and what beauty does a fan give in the hands of a Lady who knows to employ it fitly! It can wind like a snake, flutter, point, unfurl, move up and down, according to the situation and circumstances.’   Louis-Antoine Caraccioli, 1757 […]

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A Marriage, a Medal & a Painter

With the Wedding Dresses exhibition about to close, this seems an apt time to draw attention to a medal going into the Europe Galleries, struck to celebrate an important marriage 205 years ago. This bronze medal celebrates Napoleon’s second marriage to Marie Louise, daughter of Francis I of Austria, in 1810 (following Napoleon’s divorce from […]

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The Ballet of Apollo (plus some incredible costumes!)

Today in 1621 the Ballet d’Apollon (Ballet of Apollo), also known as the Ballet du Roy (the King’s Ballet), was first performed by the Ballet de Cour of Louis XIII. This costume design for role of Apollo the Shepherd in the Ballet d’Apollon will feature in the Europe Galleries’ Music display. The costume consists of a […]

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Armchair, before treatment with its 1970’s upholstery and blue paint

The Conservation of Marie Antoinette’s Chair

Zoe Allen, Senior Gilded Furniture and Frames Conservator Phil James, Technician, Technical Services This painted and gilded carved walnut chair is part of a suite of furniture made for Marie Antoinette’s Cabinet Particulier in the palace of Saint – Cloud outside of Paris. It was made by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (1748–1803) in 1788 and was painted […]

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The Treaty of Paris (252 years today)

Today in 1763, the Treaty of Paris, also known as the Treaty of 1763, was signed. The Treaty was made between the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement, following Britain’s victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War. This enamelled copper snuffbox is an example of political propaganda […]

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The reverse of the medal, depicting Hercules and activities relating to the Pas de Suze

A King, a War, a Pas, a Siege and a Master of Medals

Commemorative medals combine portraiture with designs that commemorate their subjects’ principal deeds. This medal was made to celebrate the success of Louis XIII, King of France, in forcing the passage of the Pas de Suze (the Suza Pass) in January 1629. It will feature in The Cabinet gallery display, which will explore the types of objects collected in […]

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A ‘Tragedie en Musique’ performed on 8th January 1685

Today in 1685 ‘Roland, tragédie en musique’’was first performed by the Académie Royale de Musique before King Louis XIV at Versailles. This 1685 publication of the libretto to ‘Roland, Tragedy in Music’ will feature in the new Europe Galleries as part of a display looking at musical performance in the 17th century. ‘Roland’ is one of […]

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