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Room 22: Sculpture in Britain Portraits & 'Ideal' sculpture

The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries

Many of the sculptures in this gallery represent mythological or allegorical subjects. These are sometimes known as 'ideal' sculptures, in contrast to historical subjects or portraiture. Made for display indoors, they became increasingly popular with British sculptors and patrons from the 1770s onwards. The portraits often show the sitters in the Neo-classical style, with cropped hair and loose drapery. Alternatively, the sitter might take on a role from a classical story. Mythological scenes may also include portraits of the patron's wife or children.

In the 18th and 19th centuries sculpture was often displayed in the orangery of a country house, or in a special sculpture gallery. This gallery, with views of the garden outside and daylight coming through the doors and windows, recalls those traditional methods of display.

Room 22 is on Level 1 of the V&A South Kensington.

Check the gallery closures page.

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