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

St. Eustace

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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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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Heroes album cover shoot, 1977, photograph by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita, courtesy the David Bowie Archive

The Brown Suit: “Don’t you wonder sometimes, ’bout sound and vision?”

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

St. Louis of Toulouse

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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1198-1893, medal showing Pope St. Sixtus II, Italy, 16th century (C) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pope St. Sixtus II

Here we have another medal with another pope on it. This familiar line continues when I tell you that Sixtus II was also the immediate successor to Pope Stephen, who we covered in the previous post, and that he was probably martyred in the same way, and as part of the very same crackdown by […]

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Pope St. Stephen I

Early Christian history can be a minefield of hyperbole and mysticism, of which the life of Pope St. Stephen I (reigned 254 – 257) is a very good example. Having your head cut off would be, in most cases, a fairly conclusive act. It has, however, never been clear whether or not Stephen was violently […]

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Cigarette box, made by Archibald Knox, made in Birmingham, UK, 1903-4. M.15-1970
Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

The Bed Box

Wonderful story about how the Museum acquired a silver box, as well as drawings, by Archibald Knox from the potter Rosemary Wren.  The speaker is David Coachworth who came to work in the V&A in 1963, now retired. Rosemary’s mother, the potter Denise Wren, had been a student of Knox’s and couldn’t resist buying the box with money she was supposed […]

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E.3853-1960, print showing St. Ignatius of Loyola, Wierix, (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) is an important figure in world Catholicism, but appears little-known in Britain, probably due to the break of the English church from papal authority under Henry VIII. His life was not exactly a classic saint’s tale; he started out as a proud and vainglorious man but he later, when living in […]

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Elizabeth and the Medal Cabinet

Medal Cabinet Appeal – Elizabeth Bisley, Assistant Curator

‘This cabinet is an incredibly important example of Napoleonic design, it tells so many stories about design, craftsmanship, politics and luxury in early nineteenth-century France, and would be an amazing addition to our new European galleries.’ In this series of blogs we’re interviewing various members of staff who come in contact with the Napoleonic Medal […]

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Nei and the Medal Cabinet in the Silver Galleries, Level 3

Medal Cabinet Appeal – Neide Gentelini, Gallery Assistant

‘The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design; we can safeguard the cabinet and care for it, not just in the short term but for years to come, and ensure that it is on display for everyone to see.’ In this series of blogs we’re interviewing various members of staff who come […]

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