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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William Simpson’s sketches from the Crimean War

Caricature of William Simpson from The Bailie magazine, Glasgow, 1874. Museum no. D.62A-1900. ©Victoria and Albert Museum

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

View of Hackney, engraving by an unknown artist for Walter Harrison’s ‘History of London’, 1775. Museum no. E.4552-1923. ©Victoria and Albert Museum

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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William Kineton Parkes and sculptors of the twenties

Frank Dobson (1887-1963)
Photograph of a sculpture  titled 'Susannah'

We are always keen to discover links between objects, so we were delighted recently to find that a collection of photographs we hold connect directly to archival records in the Archive of Art and Design. The link between these involves one man, the art historian, novelist, and librarian, William Kineton Parkes (1865-1938). Kineton Parkes was particularly […]

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Games of War and Grace

e 2655 1953 detail

Guy Tristram Little’s 1953 bequest, which is described in an earlier blog post, The Saga of Letitia and Rachel, continues to throw up intriguing material. Much of what he collected was of an ephemeral nature and not intended to be preserved for posterity. However, that is what makes them so fascinating. Today, I’d like to […]

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The Saga of Letitia and Rachel

The Saga of Letitla and Rachel

One of the unexpected pleasures of cataloguing a collection is when hidden treasures are discovered hidden behind dry archive descriptions, such as: “ANONYMOUS : Caricatures The Saga of Letitia and Rachel.  Drawings (23) satirizing a contemporary incident (?).  English, c.1910.” From the first image, my attention was grabbed by these high-quality charming drawings, far too […]

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French Postcards: History Revealed

E.J. Dingwall @ Eric Dingwall Archive MS912 Senate House Library, The University of London

In April 1982, a typewritten letter from E.J. Dingwall (1891?-1986) of St. Leonards-on-Sea addressed to the ‘The Keeper’ of the ‘Photographic & Postcard Dept.’ was forwarded to the Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Dingwall was following up on his 1977 correspondence with Peter Castle, Senior Researcher in the Library at the Museum, […]

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The owls are not what they seem…

Mezzotint_Avati

While on the lookout for spooky creatures to blog about for Halloween I noticed something curious – why are there so many owls in the Word and Image collection? It soon became clear that most of them were donated by the same man, Walter Strachan, but this raised more questions – who was he, how did his collection […]

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Every Donkey has his Carte de Visite.

Satirical card showing a dog delivering a carte-de-visite

In 1854, a Frenchman, André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri, patented a new form of photograph called the carte de visite. These were small images, typically about 54 mm × 89 mm, mounted on thicker cards that measured 64 by 100 mm; about the same size as visiting-cards (literally, carte de visite). Disidéri’s invention meant that multiple copies […]

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Who’s in a Name? Paquin and the Named Design, 1898-1950

'Au Son du Cor.' Suit designed by Lou Claverie for Paquin, Winter 1950-51

In the world of fashion since the 20th century, many dresses have names that were given to them during the design process. Among the most famous examples are ‘Bar,’ the cream and black skirt suit that became the most widely recognised ensemble from Christian Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ collection; and ‘Sorbet,’ Paul Poiret’s 1913 kimono-styled, […]

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