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A Stitch in Time: the V&A and the Bayeux Tapestry (3)

Eliza Stothard received the exaggerated report of her death (see my previous post) with ‘mingled feelings of indignation and amusement’ (1). This humiliation came on the back of a newspaper review of Jules Comte’s La Tapisserie de Bayeux (1878) which had sought clumsily to draw a line under the affair – ‘an offence which, however […]

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The first years of the South Kensington Museum: Part 1: Henry Cole’s ‘Wager of a Hat’

Established in 1852, the Museum was initially based at Marlborough House on the Mall in London and it was only in 1857 that it opened on its current site and was named the South Kensington Museum (being re-named the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899). Work started on the site in 1855 and the Museum […]

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Unwelcome flying visitors to the Museum

Now that the summer months are here moths and other insects are in flight and much in evidence. Clothes moths are a serious threat to the V&A’s collections and especially to textiles, with textiles predominately made from wool being particularly attractive to moths. The risk of moth damage to textiles is not a new problem […]

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A Stitch in Time: the V&A and the Bayeux Tapestry (2)

In a previous post I revealed the strange circumstances under which the V&A came to own a piece of the Bayeux tapestry. Here I explain why it was returned to Bayeux and how Henry Cole inadvertently planted the seeds of controversy regarding the identity of the person who spirited it away to England in the […]

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Tales from the Archives

Did you know that Henry Cole (1808-1882), the V&A’s first director, started his professional career as an archivist – ‘sub-commissioner’ was his actual job title – in the Records Commission (the forerunner of the National Archives)? Here he undertook the important archival work of calendaring, indexing, sorting, transcribing, and preserving records; and when the occasion […]

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Suffragettes plot to raid the V&A

Commemorative Suffragette silk scarf with purple, green and white vertical stripes, Museum no. T.20-1946. © Victoria and Albert Museum On 10 February 1913, the V&A’s Director, Cecil Harcourt-Smith, received disturbing intelligence of an audacious plot by members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to vandalise the Museum’s priceless treasures. The suffragette movement had […]

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The Vogue Archive and the National Art Library

Did you know that the National Art Library (NAL) subscribes to The Vogue Archive which can be accessed by visitors within the NAL Reading Rooms? The Vogue Archive database contains the entire run of American Vogue from 1892 to the present day. It is fully searchable and comprises high-resolution colour page images of the work […]

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Shakespeare’s First Folio

Of the 750 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio – the first collected edition of the Bard’s plays – printed in 1623, 232 are known to survive. There are probably others waiting to be found, perhaps lying forgotten in dusty attics or locked away in the private libraries of reclusive billionaire bibliophiles! Bust, terracotta, of Shakespeare, […]

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A Stitch in Time: the V&A and the Bayeux Tapestry (1)

Photograph of the Bayeux Tapestry by Cundall & Co., 1873. Museum no. E.573:25-2005. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London It seems extraordinary but the V&A once owned a piece of the Bayeux tapestry! Measuring 3¼ in x 2½ in, it was one of two fragments removed surreptitiously (?) by Charles Stothard (1786-1821) sometime between 1816 […]

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Starting to Select the Objects

The majority of our work is not as dramatically visible as the decanting and stripping out of the galleries. The main hub of activity has been happening outside the galleries – in offices, store rooms, libraries, archives and conservation studios. Here we research, develop and refine new content for the galleries.

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