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It's a bit of a balancing act! Dog balancing on two chairs on the balcony of 5 Princes Gardens, albumen print, Clementina, Lady Hawarden, London, ca.1861. V&A PH.457:330-1968

Selecting Furniture & Sculpture Part I

Today’s post has been prompted by a comment from Robert Thornhill on a previous entry. Robert asked for more information on how and why choices were made in selecting furniture and sculpture objects for the new galleries. I previously described the overall process of selecting objects back in the early days of the blog, but […]

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‘little meat and a great deal of cabbage and turnips have driven us out of Würzburg … This 22nd day of October in the year 1716′

Large writing cabinets, such as the impressive example below, were often important indicators of a gentleman’s status in the 18th century. This cabinet is a fine example of the best craftsmanship of the period and its large size and intricate detailing indicates the importance of the person for whom it was made. It also held within it a secret […]

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This engraving forms the title page of a volume. It depicts an ancient stone, with a cameo portrait of Giovanni Battista Piranesi in the centre. The portrait is a copy of a self-portrait by Piranesi, copied by his son for this volume. There are Roman engravings both above and below the cameo. Underneath the stone there are several classical motifs, including an armoured soldier, a city plan of Rome, and Roman vases. VA E.3958-1908

Born on This Day: Giovanni Battista Piranesi

In the late-18th and early-19th centuries, increased travel and archaeological discoveries, at sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, led to a revival of interest in ancient and classical decoration. The work of architect and printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) helped to pioneer this rediscovery of Roman remains and he was one of the […]

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Portrait of François Boucher, reception piece by Gustaf Lundberg for the Académie Royale de Peinture presented on January 28, 1741. Musée du Louvre

Born on this Day: François Boucher

Having caught the autumnal lurgy which seems to be making its way around the city at the moment, I was off work yesterday. This meant that I’ve been pipped to the post by the V&A’s Facebook page in marking the birthday of the French court painter, draughtsman and etcher François Boucher. I’ve refrained from changing […]

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Steel buttons: Coup de Bouton, etching by William Humphrey, c. 1777. Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

The Brown Suit: Coup de Bouton!

In my last post I mentioned how ‘Anglomania’ influenced the adoption of darker colours for men’s daytime clothing among the middle and upper classes in late 18th-century France. This move towards a more somber palette brought about a dependency on buttons to create the maximum sartorial impact. A basic rule often seeming to be ‘the […]

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The upper-body of the suit, shown as it would have been worn with a cravat around the neck.

The Brown Suit: Anglomania

As well as illustrating a svelte figure, this wonderful brown suit also exemplifies staple day-wear fashions for the middle and upper classes in late 18th-century Europe. Its slim-fit, noticeably snug across the upper-body, and the height of the coat collar attest to the owner’s fashionable taste. The breeches reach over the knees and are a tighter fit than […]

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The Brown Suit: Audio Recordings

The other week I found myself in the Textile Conservation studios, a microphone in front of me, contemplating how much sweat may have soaked into a coat. I should quickly make it clear that it wasn’t a coat being worn by a perspiring colleague, but rather a very smart wool coat dating from the 1780s. […]

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Researching & Writing a Gallery Book: The Pains of Editing

Today we have a second guest post from Kirsty, a student on placement from the University of Glasgow. Another aspect of my research for the gallery book concentrated on the shops and guilds which were a major aspect of commerce in the eighteenth century. I chose to look at a mixture of source material. One of the […]

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Meissen woodpecker, Johann Joachim Kändler, Meissen porcelain factory  Germany. ca. 1740-1745. V&A C.1-1984

Researching & Writing a Gallery Book: Luxury Goods & Eyewitness Reports

Guest Post from Kirsty:   A change of voice for the blog this time, I’m Kirsty, a student on placement from the University of Glasgow. I’ve been working on the Europe Galleries project for a month. My main interest is 18th-century history, and I’ve studied it at university, so it’s been a great opportunity to […]

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Born on This Day: ‘The Winter Queen’ Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia

This day in 1596 saw the birth of Princess Elizabeth Stuart. Daughter of Anne of Denmark and James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), Elizabeth was the sister of Charles I of England and later became Queen of Bohemia. Elizabeth will have a visible presence in the new Europe Galleries in the form […]

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