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Intrepid Artists – William Hodges and a voyage towards the South Pole

Crew of the Resolution collecting ice for drinking water

240 years ago, on the 30th July 1775, a remarkable voyage came to an end at Portsmouth.  Having set sail in 1772 the “Resolution” and its sister ship “Adventure”, led by Captain James Cook, had spent three years traversing the Southern Hemisphere, recording previously un-charted waters and islands and making contact with their inhabitants.  On board the “Resolution” was a […]

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Here be Dragons

244:3, Leaf from choir-book with initial S in red pen-work on green and blue ground depicting a dragon. Netherland. late 12th century, © V&A Museum.

When we think of the Middle Ages we often imagine a world full of knights, castles and, of course, dragons. Sightings of dragons appear periodically in medieval chronicles such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of AD.793 which mentions ‘dreadful fore-warnings…whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament”. This 15th century illustrated version of Pliny’s ‘Natural History’ […]

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Searching for Don Quixote in the NAL

Frontispiece to 1620 version of 'Don Quixote' NAL: Dyce 2000. ©V&A Museum.

In Spain, there are efforts afoot to discover the exact location of the grave of one of the country’s greatest writers, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Despite the instant popularity of his masterpiece ‘Don Quixote’, he died in poverty and was buried somewhere in the Convent of Trinitarians in Madrid, but the exact location is unknown.  […]

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A ‘Tragedie en Musique’ performed on 8th January 1685


Today in 1685 ‘Roland, tragédie en musique’’was first performed by the Académie Royale de Musique before King Louis XIV at Versailles. This 1685 publication of the libretto to ‘Roland, Tragedy in Music’ will feature in the new Europe Galleries as part of a display looking at musical performance in the 17th century. ‘Roland’ is one of […]

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Figure Training

Flexura Boots  ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 “From the earliest periods of the world’s history down to the present day it has been found necessary to employ systems of restraint and correction calculated to adapt the unformed and unfashioned figure”. Figure training or art the handmaid of nature by EDM was published in 1870, partly as a vindication of altering the human […]

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Every Lady Her Own Drawing Master

Brachycombes by Geoge Brookshaw

One of the main pleasures of taking up a hobby is surely acquiring all the necessary equipment, preferably new, with everything matching and on a professional scale. Women taking up watercolour painting in 1797 obviously felt the same “Every lady who has a taste for painting, furnishes herself with a box of colours, probably eighteen, […]

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Speed Residency update from Vincent Larkin

vincent progress1

Vincent is coming to the end of his two week residency slot in the studio, and below he shares his thoughts on his time here, as well as some great photos of his work in progress. * There’s a great deal of energy to this space and the galleries. All of these objects and stories […]

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Style and Satire


INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER Sarah Grant, curator in the Word and Image Department at the V&A, and co-author of the  V&A’s new publication Style and Satire: Fashion in Print 1777-1927 Style and Satire tells the entertaining story of European fashion and its most fantastical trends from two interrelated perspectives – the lavish, celebratory fashion plate, and […]

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Q&A with the Legendary Biba Designer Barbara Hulanicki

photo 22

1. What is your favourite Shop in London and Miami? In Miami I love C Madeline’s, it’s an extraordinary Vintage shop on Biscayne Boulevard. In London it would be Selfridges. 2. Tell us about the Biba outfits that stick out in your mind… The hooded leopard coat we made for Twiggy in the nineteen seventies. […]

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The History of Miss Wildfire

T.361:17-1998; T.361:18-1998; T.361:19-1998; T.361:20-1998 Four accessories for paper dolls; from The History of Miss Wildfire; British; 1832. Card & watercolour.

I have spent part of the morning looking at a very interesting object in the Textiles and Fashion collection. It is a manuscript, written in rhyme, by a girl named Anne Sanders Wilson. She wrote it for her sister, Mary Wilson, in October 1832. It is ten pages long and is inscribed in a precise, […]

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