More than 1100 objects from the V&A’s outstanding collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design are on display in the Europe 1600-1815 galleries. Alongside existing collections, a number of significant new acquisitions are exhibited for the first time. Here we present ten of the highlights.
This table was probably made to celebrate the Venetian recapture of the seaport Nafplio during the war with the Ottoman Turks over the Peloponnese Islands. The marquetry top depicts battles between Turks and Europeans. The scenes are surrounded by abundant acanthus leaves and military trophies that are echoed in the vigorously carved base.
Acquired with support from the Friends of the V&A, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), and the Horn Bequest.
The Visit of Louis XIV to the Château de Juvisy
This panoramic landscape depicts the estate of Juvisy near Paris, which is visible on the horizon. It belonged to the head of Louis XIV’s secret police. He restored and extended the château and grounds in the late 1660s, much as Louis was to do on a grander scale at Versailles. The king’s official landscape architect, André Le Nôtre, designed the garden. The scene may represent a visit by Louis in 1678, but was painted some years later.
Purchased with the support of the Friends of the V&A, a gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, the Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation), the John Webb Trust Fund, the Coral Samuel Charitable Trust, the John R Jones Bequest, the Finnis Scott Foundation, the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of the Ruth Covo Family Foundation, the John S Cohen Foundation, Mrs Kirsty Maxwell Stuart, and many other donors.
Het Loo Palace
Louis XIV’s style was copied across Europe, even by rulers who were not his allies. This print shows that the layout of Het Loo Palace in the Netherlands resembled Versailles. It was enlarged by the Dutch Protestant Prince William of Orange from 1689. The gardens are treated as an extension of the house and laid out along a central axis with an almost symmetrical arrangement of parterres on either side.
Formal dress for men, comprising a coat, waistcoat and breeches, was close-fitting, heavy and restrictive in cut. At home, when with family or receiving friends or business associates, wealthy men often preferred to wear a loose-fitting, full-length dressing gown, or banyan. The style derives from the Japanese kimono, but the word itself originated in the Indian word for a merchant or trader – banya.
Man in a Winter Suit with Cane
This print shows what fashionable men at the court of Louis XIV were wearing in the winter of 1678. The annotations describe both fabrics and trimmings. The print comes from Le Mercure Galant, the first newspaper anywhere to publish fashion news regularly. From 1672 onwards, it spread news about French fashions to readers in France and beyond, encouraging the emulation of French styles.
Given by Antony Griffiths and Judy Rudoe.
Unfinished needlework panel
This may have been a needlework ‘kit’, started by a professional embroiderer and intended for an amateur to complete. The design combines features inspired by both Chinese and Turkish art, with the figures wearing an approximation of Turkish dress. The mixture of real and mythical animals, shown in unusual scale, suggests fantastical foreign lands.
Tea set in travelling case
This tea set, probably assembled by a Parisian merchant, was owned by the English actor, playwright and theatre manager David Garrick. The slop bowl, used for the dregs from cups, was very unusual in French tea services, suggesting the set may have been put together specifically for its English owner. It was made from a combination of old stock and new shapes with the same decoration.
Purchased with funds from the Captain H.B. Murray Bequest and with the support of the V&A Director’s Circle.
Towards the end of the 18th century, Europe was gripped by ‘Anglomania’, a love of all things English. In formal men’s attire this could be seen in a taste for simple, closefitting cut and fine woollen cloth in sombre colours. Here, the only decoration is the set of finely faceted cut-steel buttons imported from England.
This piece shows Mother Nature nursing a European and an African child. It was made in 1794, the year the French voted to abolish slavery in the colonies. The sculpture is one of many objects created at that time to celebrate the ideals of civil rights for all. The mother figure breastfeeding the children of the empire symbolises the Republican values of equality and duty.
Purchase funded by the Friends of the V&A.
On display in Room 1
This cabinet for medals was probably made for someone in Napoleon’s circle. With its stark architectural form and intricate silver decoration, it is one of the finest examples of Empire style furniture and of the taste for all things Egyptian. The design was based on a drawing of a ruined temple in Qus by the artist, collector and diplomat Dominique-Vivant Denon, who accompanied Napoleon’s military expedition in Egypt.
Purchased with the support of the Art Fund, the Friends of the V&A, Stephen and Anne Curran, the American Friends of the V&A, the Gilbert Trust for the Arts, Dr. Susan Weber*, The Leche Trust, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation*, the Gilbert Public Arts Foundation Trust*, The Furniture History Society, The Society of Dilettanti Charitable Trust, the Cahn Family*, Sir Nicholas and Lady Goodison’s Charitable Settlement, and many other donors.
*These donations were made possible by the American Friends of the V&A