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Dr Franz Johann Joseph Bock

Woven silk with 'lion-strangler' design

Woven silk with 'lion-strangler' design; silk compound twill. Acquired from Canon Franz Bock's collection.

Dr Franz Johann Joseph Bock was a German ecclesiologist and collector who sold an important collection of textiles to the South Kensington Museum in 1862. His attempt to sell it a second substantial collection in 1882 was unsuccessful. In the 1860s and 1870s, Bock advised the Museum on its purchases of textiles.

Dr Franz Johann Joseph Bock was born in Burtscheid, Germany, on 3 May 1823. He studied theology at the University of Bonn and was ordained as a priest at the Cologne seminary in 1849. Bock combined his religious offices with a study of ecclesiastical art, particularly textiles; his history of liturgical vestments – Geschichte der liturgischen Gewänder der Mittelalters, oder Entstehung und Entwicklung der kirchlichen Ornate und Paramente mit Rücksicht auf Stoff, Gewebe, Farbe, Zeichnung, Schnitt und rituelle Bedeutung – was published in 3 volumes between 1859 and 1871.

Bock undertook several tours of Europe and the Near East during which he amassed substantial collections of textiles, laces, specimens of bookbindings, among other objects. He first sold a group of textiles to the South Kensington Museum in 1860 (7004 to 7095-1860). In 1862 Bock moved to Aachen where he was appointed Cathedral canon on 24 June; the same year the Museum purchased for £500 part of a collection of woven fabrics (8553 to 8713 -1863) on loan to it from Bock (J. C. Robinson had been despatched previously to Aix la Chapelle to report on the collection). In 1862/3 Bock was elected an honorary fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In the 1860s and 1870s, Bock advised the Museum on its purchases of textiles and in the 1880s assisted with the revision of the labels for the textiles collections.

In 1882, Bock attempted to sell to the South Kensington Museum his entire collection of textiles which, he stated, ‘fill 4 rooms and of themselves form a splendid Museum’. These and other collections (including ironwork and sculpture) were exhibited at the Museum and Bock himself travelled to London to superintend the opening of the cases and the chronological arrangement of the textiles. William Morris, in his capacity as Art Referee, recommended that the Museum should purchase a selection of star items; in the event, the collection was purchased by the Manchester Corporation in 1883. Bock died in Aachen on 30 April 1899.


Information in the V&A Archive

MA/1/B1764: Nominal file – Bock, the Revd Dr Franz

MA/3/1-2, 8, 10, 14, 19, 22, 28, 31, 34, 47 & 49: Art referees’ reports, 1863-1886

MA/30/26: Central inventory register, museum numbers 7004 to 7095-1860

MA/30/32: Central inventory register, museum numbers 8553 to 8713-1863

MA/31/1: Register of loans in

MA/32/112: Photographs

MA/49/2/57: Press cuttings

ED 84/35: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. I, 1852-1863

ED 84/36: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. II and III, 1863-1877

ED 84/38: Précis of the Board minutes of the Science and Art Department, vol. V, 1881-1883

ED 84/205: Official visits abroad by keepers of the Museum with reports on foreign Museums, collections, etc, 1861-1900

Eleventh Report of the Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education. London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswood for HMSO, 1864 (includes Dr Bock’s report on the Soltykoff reliquary)

Henry Cole: diaries: typed transcripts, 1822-1882

Selected printed works

Bock, Franz. Geschichte der liturgischen Gewänder der Mittelalters, oder Entstehung und Entwicklung der kirchlichen Ornate und Paramente mit Rücksicht auf Stoff, Gewebe, Farbe, Zeichnung, Schnitt und rituelle Bedeutung. 3 vols. Bonn: Henry & Cohen, 1859-1871. NAL pressmark: 43.E.10, 11, 12

Jopek, Norbert. ‘Kanonikus Dr. Franz Bock und das South Kensington Museum.’ In: Michael Embach, ed. Sancta Treveris: Festschrift fur Franz Ronig zum 70. Geburtstag. Trier: Paulinus Verlag, 1999. NAL pressmark: 602.AA.1263

Borkopp-Restle, Birgitt. Der Aachener Kanonikus Franz Bock und seine Textilsammlungen: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Kunstgewerbe im 19. Jahrhundert. Riggisberg: Abegg-Stiftung, 2008. NAL pressmark: 602.AK.0604

[Franz Bock: NAL Information file]. NAL pressmark: INF

To locate material in the National Art Library, please search the Library Catalogue.

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