The V&A’s sculpture collection contains approximately 22,000 objects and concentrates on Western European Sculpture from the 4th century to the end of the 19th century. Highlights of the collection include masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance, ivory carvings of all periods, Northern European wood and other sculpture, commemorative medals and plaster casts.

Learn about the hidden stories behind these masterpieces.

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Garnitures: What a difference a vase makes!

Five-piece garniture, porcelain, Jingdezhen, China, circa 1695,

It isn’t often museum curators have a chance to explore historical decorative schemes using vase sets to research the history of ceramic display, taste and patronage (unless you work for the National Trust). Vase sets, also known as ‘garnitures’ (ie. to garnish or adorn furniture or interiors), come to life when displayed on furniture or […]

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Garnitures : Discovering the Joy of Sets!

Five-piece garniture, porcelain, Jingdezhen, China, circa 1695,

The idea for the display Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses has been brewing in my head for almost two decades. Ceramic scholars describe matching sets of vases as ‘garnitures’, vessels that ornament or adorn (‘garnish’) a specific location, such as a chimney or the top of a cabinet. I was researching the history […]

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Garnitures: Vase Sets From National Trust Houses

Five-piece garniture, porcelain, Jingdezhen, China, circa 1695,

On 11 October 2016, we are opening the first-ever museum display focused on vase sets, also known as garnitures (from Fr. garnir ‘to garnish’). These are primarily ceramic vases with matching decoration designed for display above a chimneypiece, a cabinet and even over doorways. The National Trust has the largest collection of vase sets in […]

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Guest post: Plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David in the plaster cast workshop of the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels

PICTURE 1 : David in the Brussels plaster cast workshop ©KMKG-MRAH, Brussels

Nele Strobbe is Head of the Plaster Cast Workshop at the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels The plaster cast of Michelangelo’s David at the Victoria and Albert Museum has, in addition to his ‘cousin’ in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, another one in Brussels. Currently most of this David […]

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A new home for Neptune and Triton in the Europe 1600-1815 Gallery

Detail of Neptune's face © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Neptune and Triton (Mus. No. A.18-1950) by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is one of the V&A’s most well-known Italian marble groups. The sculpture, which stands nearly two meters high and weighs over 8oo kg was recently moved to the newly refurbished Europe 1600-1815 gallery, where it now stands in prime position, with Neptune casting his terrifying gaze upon […]

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The curious case of the Tibetan skull drum

Detail showing an area of missing decoration © Johanna Puisto Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I was recently asked to work on a very unusual object, which was a 19th century Tibetan drum, made of human skulls. The drum was about to travel to the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition titled; ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple; Body, Mind and Meditation in Tantric Buddhism’. It was highly exciting to work on this loan as His […]

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Art of Cartapesta Demonstration

Victor Borges

On Sunday 13 September there was a fascinating drop-in demonstration on the Art of Cartapesta, an event which forms part of the Robert H. Smith Renaissance Sculpture programme.  Victor Borges, a Senior Conservator at the V&A who has worked on cartapesta objects in the Collection, took enthralled visitors through the materials and techniques which might […]

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All that glitters is not gold – or is it?

Figure 4
The golden surface of the sandal viewed with the microscope inbuilt in the XRF machine. The laser in the center of the cross hairs shows the exact spot analysed, which is 0.2 mm across

Science meets Shoes. Go behind the scene and find out what we do to our objects before they can go on display. This is the tale of the two Lucias, Lucia the research assistant and Lucia the scientist: together we reveal aspects of our job related to the forthcoming exhibition “Shoes – Pleasure and Pain”. […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects. Part 2


The secret parcel and other discoveries from the Weston Cast Court. In my previous post I described some of the surprising items we found in the museum’s Medieval & Renaissance and British Sculpture galleries. The things that we found were type of messages from the past left by the people who worked in the museum […]

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Time capsules, finding the unexpected in buildings and objects. Part 1

And additional note with very important information regarding the cos of beer in 1948

One of the benefits of working in old buildings is that they often conceal secrets that are just waiting to be discovered. Before joining the V&A, I used to work at St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the world’s most iconic buildings and filled with glorious art. In the Cathedral’s crypt, I found a fascinating object […]

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