Painting and Drawing in the Archive of Art & Design

Sketchbook page, Edith Crapper, mid-20th century. Museum no. AAD/1979/1, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sketchbook page, Edith Crapper, mid-20th century. Museum no. AAD/1979/1, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A's Archive of Art and Design holds the working papers of individual artists and designers, as well as the records of companies and associations involved in all aspects of applied art and design. The archives can be consulted by appointment at Blythe House, located near Olympia in West London.

Although essentially devoted to the decorative arts, the Archive of Art and Design (AAD) holds a small but significant amount of material relating to the history and development of the graphic arts in the UK, spanning from the 19th century to the present day. The material held includes personal papers and correspondence, diaries, sketchbooks and designs, photographs, press cuttings, administrative records and actual artefacts.

For example, the holdings for Sir William Russell Flint include many printing blocks and plates which offer a glimpse into the mechanics of the artistic process, as well as proofs of book illustrations, appointment diaries covering the years 1934 to 1968 and variously dated sketches. The archive for Edward Ardizzone gives an insight into the working life of the artist, with books he illustrated, menu designs, legal papers, details on the loan of paintings to exhibitions, Christmas cards designed by Ardizzone in the 1960s and 1970s, correspondence about picture sales and royalty statements.

The Archive of Art and Design's holdings for artists' organisations and societies provide a rich source of research material and include items such as catalogues covering nearly 150 years of exhibitions by the Society of Women Artists; the Royal Institute of Oil Painters' council meetings minutes dating from 1882 to 1986; and amongst the Royal Society of British Artists' records, letters from J. A. McNeill Whistler. There is also a vast number of files held in the Arts Council of Great Britain archive dating from its inception in 1928 to the present day.

For more details please consult the Guide to the Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum by Elizabeth Lomas (London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2001), which not only lists the AAD archives, but also identifies related material in the V&A Museum and other institutions. Most of the archives are also listed on the National Art Library catalogue.


  • Edward Ardizzone, artist and book illustrator: papers, c.1939-80.
  • John Vere Brown, painter, writer and photographer: papers, c.1960-c.2000.
  • Sir William Russell Flint R.A., artist: papers, 1902-70.
  • Rupert Lee, artist: papers, c.1880s-2001.
  • John Seymour Lucas, artist: papers, 1880-1920.
  • Alfred Stevens, painter and sculptor: collection, c.1830-75.
  • Leon Underwood, illustrator, painter and writer: papers, c.1925-73.


  • Leon Underwood, illustrator, painter and writer: papers, c.1925-73.

Organisations and societies

  • Artists' League of Great Britain: records, 1911-c.1985.
  • Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society (later Society of Designer-Craftsmen): records, 1886-1984.
  • Arts Council of Great Britain: records, 1928-97.
  • Misha Black, industrial and exhibition designer and architect: papers, 1928-77.
    (Includes material relating to UNESCO, Industrial Design Partnership, Design Council, Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (Great Britain) and International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.)
  • Central Institute of Art and Design: records, c.1940-c.1959.
  • T.A. Fennemore, designer of pottery, wallpaper and textiles: papers, 1924-58.
    (Includes material relating to the Society of Mural Painters, Council of Industrial Design (Great Britain) and Design and Industries Association (Great Britain)).
  • Royal Institute of Oil Painters: records, 1882-1997.
  • Royal Society of British Artists: records, 1823-1985.
  • Society of Women Artists: records, 1905-1998.
    AAD/1996/7: AAD/1997/14: AAD/1998/11

Contact details

Archive of Art and Design
Tel: +44 (0)20 7603 7493
Contact us online

Private Group Tours & Talks

We offer a wide range of tours to meet your group requirements. Whether a group has a special area of interest, wishes to explore a particular gallery or just get an overview of the Museum's collection the Groups Team can help.

View our Private Group Tours & Talks

Event - From Rococo to Art Nouveau: 1720-1900. 14/15

Thu 25 September 2014–Thu 09 July 2015

YEAR COURSE: Gain a unique perspective on one of the most dynamic periods in the history of European art. Consider the relationship between the visual arts and
the wider political and cultural context of the period and explore themes such as taste, patronage and the art market.

Book online