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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Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 4: Fashion, Finally

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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

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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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Falbalas and Fanfreluches part 3: Fantasy

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A third instalment of George Barbier’s illustrations from his luxury collector’s magazine Falbalas et Fanfreluches. This time, the theme is theatricality and general over-the-top extravagance. The images will speak for themselves!            

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 2: Love Story

George Barbier. “Elle et Lui”. 1921.
E.644-1954

This is another instalment of George Barbier’s illustrations from his luxury collector’s magazine Falbalas et Fanfreluches. One of his favourite themes was the interplay between people, with a strong romantic undercurrent. So here are some of Barbier’s prints telling romantic stories – of several varieties!   Love in the autumn…   “The stolen kiss” over […]

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Who Was Wheatcroft?

Detail of a sinking ship from E.32-1949

Whilst cataloguing, I often reflect on the many engravers whose work is now in our store, either anonymous, or signed only with cryptic initials or widespread surnames, and are fated to remain unknown. Only their work remains to silently attest to the skills of these unknown craftsmen and women. I may wish that A.R. (E.126-1941) […]

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Stained Glass on Paper: Morris & Co. and the Pre-Raphaelites

The finished panel. Museum no. C.317-1927.

[Stained glass] is a very limited art and its limitations are its strength. (Edward Burne-Jones, 1897) The qualities needed in the design […] are beauty and character of outline; exquisite, clear, precise drawing of incident. (William Morris, 1890) In my previous post, I looked at some early stained glass designs, and mentioned how the established techniques […]

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Falbalas and Fanfreluches part 1: Folk Dress

George Barbier. “Sérenade,” 1923. Colour process engraving published by Meynial, Paris. E.638-1954

George Barbier (1882-1932) was one of the most highly regarded illustrators of the early 20th century Art Deco movement. His 1910s and 1920s fashion illustrations are among some of the most evocative of their period, and tempered with an unexpected sense of humour and liveliness. Perhaps more successfully than any other fashion illustrator of his […]

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Stained Glass on Paper: Medieval and Renaissance Designs

Design for a stained glass window, pen and ink and red chalk drawing by Hans Baldung Grun, German, ca. 1508.

If you’ve ever wandered the corridors of the V&A, you’ve probably come across the dazzling Sacred Silver and Stained Glass gallery (if not, I definitely recommend a visit!). This is one of my favourite rooms in the museum, both for the beautiful effects produced by the changing light at different times of day and year, […]

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Terrifying Tales

Illustration to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, Alphonse Legros, ca. 1860-1861.

Today marks Halloween and with the chill in the air and the nights drawing in it is easy to see why this time of year has been seen as dark and sinister. As a keen reader of Gothic fiction and avid watcher of horror movies, Halloween has to be one of my favourite events in […]

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