The Factory Presents…

We are a group of cataloguers, photographers, curators and volunteers, nicknamed ‘the Factory’. We are working through the stored collections of the Prints, Designs, Photographs, Paintings and Digital Art sections of the Word and Image department at the V&A, making sure that images and existing data about the items we hold are available to the public via Search the Collections.

These posts are about the objects we come across during our work cataloguing, photographing and curating the Word and Image collections of Prints, Designs, Photographs, Paintings and Digital Art currently in store at the V&A. Anything you see here is available to view in the Prints and Drawings Study Room.

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Revisiting Walker Evans’s modernist photographs of African sculpture

NB: The term ‘negro’ was used historically to describe people of black (sub-Saharan) African heritage but, since the 1960s, has fallen from usage and, increasingly, is considered offensive. The term is repeated here in its original historical context. As a cataloguer in the Word and Image Department, I always take an opportunity to look in […]

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Fifty shades of hay: the sketchbook of George Robert Lewis

I recently catalogued an unassuming brown leather sketchbook which turned out to contain a wealth of beautiful drawings documenting agricultural work in the British countryside, including haymaking and harvesting. As we’re approaching harvest time I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share this hidden gem. The title page of the book is signed […]

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Richard Dadd’s Middle Eastern Sketchbooks

Two views of Valletta, Malta.

Richard Dadd is perhaps most famous as the Victorian fairy-painter who killed his father and subsequently spent 40 years as an inmate of Bedlam and Broadmoor. Although accurate, this oversimplifies the life and career of this extremely talented and troubled artist. Dadd suffered a breakdown whilst travelling with his patron in the Middle East in […]

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Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC)

Today’s post is by guest blogger Melanie Lenz, the V&A’s Curator of Digital Art. In this blog entry, posted to co-inside with the 200th anniversary of Argentina’s independence, Melanie explores a small but remarkable number of the V&A’s digital artworks made in Argentina in the late 1960s. The Museum’s extensive collection of early digital artworks […]

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Photographs of Casts: Bedford Lemere’s Royal Architectural Museum Album

From its founding in 1852, the South Kensington Museum (as the V&A was first known) took a leading role in the reproduction of art works to serve as models for artists and designers. As part of this mandate, casts, photography and electrotypes were acquired and commissioned. They were regarded as an essential part of the […]

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Oscar Jennings’ collection of early woodcut initials

In 1921, the V&A acquired Oscar Jennings’ collection of around 24,000 initial letters from early printed books. The collection, which was offered to the museum by Jennings’ widow Cecile, had formed the basis of his 1908 book Early Woodcut Initials. Thanks to our fantastic team of volunteers, we have recently begun to digitise these and make them accessible via the V&A’s Search […]

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Adolphe Bilordeaux: Photographs as Drawing Lessons

            You may have noticed from my last post that we are currently working through our collection of photographs of sculpture. This set has been my favourite so far – it is a series of photographs of plaster casts of sculpture. The original sculptures the casts were made from date from the Classical era, […]

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John Singer Sargent and Spanish processional sculpture: Guest post

Today’s post is by guest blogger Chloe Sharpe, a PhD candidate in History of Art at the University of York, whose doctorate is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH). On her PhD placement project, developed within the V&A-WRoCAH partnership scheme, Chloe has been researching Sargent’s collection of Spanish photographs […]

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William Simpson’s sketches from the Crimean War

I have recently finished cataloguing an album of sketches from the Crimean War by the Scottish artist William Simpson. It is a fascinating volume, not only as an important resource from this period in history, but also for the picture it paints of Simpson himself as an artist and a collector. William Simpson was born […]

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East London in pictures: Arthur Villiers’ gift from the Gardner Collection

With the announcement that a new V&A site is planned for the Olympic Park in Stratford, it seems timely that I have just finished cataloguing a set of more than 400 prints and drawings relating to East London. My earlier post about a balloon flight from the Mermaid Tavern in Hackney gave a little taster of the fascinating objects I have been working […]

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