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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Photograph of May Morris by Frederick Hollyer

Unsung Artists : May Morris (1862-1938)

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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Wall painting

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

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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The motto outside Harry Hems' workshop

“Faithful not fawning”, the woodcarving of Harry Hems

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

Surprising Sketches by Alfred Edward Chalon

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving from the Factory!

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

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

Falbalas and Fanfreluches Part 2: Love Story

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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Detail of a sinking ship from E.32-1949

Who Was Wheatcroft?

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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