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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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The Tilliard Daybed


Zoe Allen and Isabelle Rehault-Wills Senior Conservators   As part of the redisplay of the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, several pieces of seat furniture were selected for re-upholstery. Among these was a daybed (W.5-1956), or ‘veilleuse’, by Jean-Baptiste Tilliard (1686 – 1766) (Figure 1). This article focuses on the work carried out on the carved and […]

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Armchair Revolution

Arm support for armchair drying

Phil James Museum Technician   This article addresses the approach undertaken to treat upholstered furniture in an ethical and non-invasive way. Re-upholstering an object using tacks would irreversibly alter its condition, risk harming existing decoration and might destroy or obscure traces of original and later coverings. For example, fibres of materials can sometimes be found, […]

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In harmony: sharing skills on a virginal

Furniture conservator Dana Melchar retouching a resin restoration

Fi Jordan, Senior Ceramics Conservator Dana Melchar, Senior Furniture Conservator The conservation of an early seventeenth-century virginal (402-1872) for the Europe 1600-1800 Galleries provided an opportunity for the sharing and development of skills within the V&A Objects Conservation Section (Figure 1). The virginal is composed of materials – wood, leather, glass, enamel and various metals […]

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Where to put your lowly medieval bottom

MSL/1910/2385 folio 2 r, Book of Hours (the Margaret de Foix  Hours), France, ca. 1470. © V&A Museum.

In my previous blog we saw how chairs are used as signs of power and status. In this blog I will look at other types of seat on which to place on your (more lowly) medieval bottom Medieval houses were generally sparsely furnished so it is not surprising that very few examples of medieval furniture […]

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The Real Game of Thrones – Medieval Seats of Power

MSL/1902/1649 folio 78 r, Book of Hours, French, ca. 1425. © V&A Museum.

Fans of Games of Thrones know how impressive an important seat of power can be. This is also true in medieval manuscripts where images of thrones feature often when depicting earthly and heavenly rulers. You don’t, however, always need a fancy throne like the Iron Throne of Westeros to show your importance; any chair with […]

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New acquisition: Brionvega RR126 ‘radiofonografo’


  This radiogram is a musical pet, or at least that’s how it was described when it appeared in Italy in 1966, the product of the imaginations of the Castiglioni brothers, Achille (1918-2002) and Pier Giacomo (1913-1968). It is the Furniture and Woodwork collections’ first acquisition of 2016.   Brionvega produced many cutting-edge audio-visual products […]

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Blue and White: Products

Bluebellgray chair

Many of the designs for products we see in our high street stores and online come from historical references. The blue and white Willow pattern not only influenced our fashion industry (see Blue and White: Fashion), it also continues to influence our product design industry today. If we move away from ceramics for a moment and […]

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The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 117

The Tower of Babel – Shop of the Day 117 Curtain Road, East London today with British Design firm @SCPLtd celebrating 30 years at the forefront of British Design.  Beautiful furniture , lovely shop I want most of the furniture in there! Check this article in The Guardian ©Barnaby Barford 2014

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