Tag: metalwork

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Tula Fireplace

Fireplace with fender, mantel ornaments, and fire-irons, of burnished steel with applied decoration of gilt copper and brass and cut steel.

Donna Stevens Senior Metals Conservator   For most people the word ‘Tula’ probably conjures up the idea of luggage and small leather goods, but it is actually the name of the town in Russia where Peter the Great set up workshops to produce arms and munitions. The workers also used their skills in iron and […]

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Curios in the Archive: Elkington Family Treasures

Photograph: old lady
1 item

As an Archives Assistant in the Archive of Art and Design, one task that I am charged with is the box listing and cataloguing of archives. This can be a very interesting process and sometimes leads to the cataloguer making new and exciting discoveries. This is particularly true of personal papers within our collections. One […]

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Lighting up the Studio


Last week a colleague mysteriously encouraged me to pop my head into the Photo Studio, for a ‘nice surprise’. Not knowing quite what to expect, I arrived to find Metalwork Curator Kirstin and Senior Metals Conservator Donna in the final stages of assembling the rather stunning chandelier which will be part of our Louis XIV display. To enable […]

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We Think through Practice!

The crucible has been lifted out of the furnace and placed in an iron support.  Becky removes the slag (waste) from the motlen bronze in the crucible.

V&A/RCA History of Design students are one of the museum’s best-kept secrets. They organise conferences, symposia and shows, take part in practice-based workshops and study visits, contribute to major projects at the V&A and elsewhere and, of course, write about all aspects of the history of design, on this blog, and as part of their […]

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St. Barbara

T.13-1937, embroidered picture of St. Barbara, probably a 20th century forgery © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Today, almost three weeks late, I present St. Barbara, another spurious Roman saint. She is said to have been born in the mid-3rd century, her father was wealthy, overbearing and pagan. He kept her locked in a tower to protect her from the world, but could not prevent her from secretly becoming a Christian and […]

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Commemorating the Reformation in ‘ANNO SECULARI MDCCXVII DIE 31 OCT’


Today I bring you a commemoration of a commemoration! ‘IN MEMORIAM SECUNDI IUBILAEI EVANGELICI ANNO SECULARI MDCCXVII DIE 31 OCT[obris] CELEBRATI SENAT[us] FRANCOFURTI F [ieri] F[ecit] I I F’ The text above is found inscribed on a Reichstaler coin set into the base of a beaker going into the Europe Galleries. The inscription translates as: ‘In […]

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St. Eustace

Detail of PL side of 7821-1861, wheel lock rifle, showing St. Eustace and the stag © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Today is the feast of another of our Holy Helpers, Saint Eustace. In his person is united the graphic design for Jägermeister, a new theory concerning the term ‘family roast’, and the pleas and devotion of nearly two millennia of firemen. Read on, bold traveller of the internet, and be enlightened.   Eustace was a […]

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The Brown Suit: Coup de Bouton!

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

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 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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St. Louis of Toulouse

Detail of St. Louis of Toulouse © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

What do discarded crowns, Barcelona and Zac Efron all have in common? The answer is St. Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297). This former bishop was a holy man of impeccable saintly lineage, who could count King St. Louis IX of France, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Margaret of Hungary among his hallowed family tree. He […]

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