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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Impractical shoes


To mark the opening of our wonderful ‘Shoes: Pleasure and Pain’ exhibition, I’d like to share with you these photographs, which came to light as part of my ongoing research into the historic reference photographs we have here at the V&A. These images show shoes in the collection of the Musée de Cluny in Paris. […]

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Views of Norway

V&A: 685-1918 (detail)Photograph of a view of Gejrangerfjord, Søndmør (Norway), taken by  Axel Lindahl

Around a year ago I received some visitors from the Norsk Folkemuseum near Oslo. Ahead of their visit I searched through our photographs collection to see what images we had which related to Norway, ready to show our guests. I was pleased to find we had some very beautiful 19th century photographs of Norwegian landscapes and […]

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Paquin: Parisian Fashion Designs 1897-1954

'Poursuite'. Design for a skirt suit and coat by Lou Claverie for Paquin, Paris, mid-1950.

Over the last few years I have been working through a remarkable collection of over 9,700 fashion designs from the House of Paquin. Covering the period from Winter 1897 to Winter 1953-54, these designs (many bound in impressively hefty volumes) were acquired in 1957 following the 1956 disestablishment of the Paris House of Worth, who […]

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Unsung Artists : May Morris (1862-1938)

Photograph of May Morris by Frederick Hollyer

One of the best things about working on the Factory project is the range of different artists and designers that we come across while cataloguing. The V&A’s collection of works on paper is huge (741,000 objects and counting!) and amongst the famous names like Constable and Raphael, there are a wealth of fascinating and talented […]

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St. George’s Day – Dragons in the Prints, Drawings and Paintings Collection

Wall painting

Bravery and gallantry abound today as we celebrate the feast day of St. George: patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Lithuania, Georgia, Russia and Palestine, amongst others. Through his portrayal in visual imagery this chivalrous saint has, perhaps, become most widely recognised as a dragon slayer. It is the representation of the dragon slayer that […]

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“Faithful not fawning”, the woodcarving of Harry Hems

The motto outside Harry Hems' workshop

While moving a store of photographs recently here at the V&A, I came across rather an intriguing character. What led me to him was a box of 19th century photographs of ecclesiastical carvings; we have many hundreds of photographs of woodwork and stonework from religious buildings from around the world in the collection, but what caught my […]

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Surprising Sketches by Alfred Edward Chalon

Alfred Edward Chalon, Santini en Ville, ca. 1830. Museum number E.974-1924. © Victoria & Albert Museum.

After moving to England with his family in the late 18th century, the Swiss painter Alfred Edward Chalon quickly made a name for himself as a portraitist. He enrolled in the Royal Academy in 1797, primarily specialising in watercolour portrait miniatures, like this one.                       […]

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 4: Fashion, Finally


This is the fourth and final instalment of George Barbier’s fabulous illustrations for Falbalas and Fanfreluches. While we did see some contemporary elegance in the previous three Barbier posts. it’s time to focus on his actual fashion designs. Unlike many other illustrators of the period, many of the gowns in Barbier’s drawings were of his […]

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Cast a clout and get your umbrella out

image 1 800w

It’s spring time! The sun is out, ‘clouts’ are being cast left right and centre*, and everyone is looking a little bit happier. What better time then, to talk about umbrellas? After all, the aforementioned sun is still fighting those fluffy limelight-stealing clouds for our attentions and the ‘threat’ of rain is a spring time […]

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Factory!

‘The Arrival of the Turkey from Goa,’ from The Jahangirnama, Ustad Mansur, ca. 1612. © Victoria & Albert Museum.

With the last days of November approaching, many American minds are turning to their Thanksgiving celebrations. Since becoming an official federal holiday in 1863, the last Thursday of the month has been reserved for visiting family and friends, watching the (American) football game, and sharing an enormous turkey dinner. Having spent weeks eagerly reviewing my […]

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