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Highlights in this issue

Cataloguing Change: Women, Art and Technology

Focussing on key objects in the V&A’s digital art collection, this article considers the relationship between women, art and technology. It contextualises early digital practices and documents the significant contribution made by female artists, curators and educators inspired by the creative potential of new technologies.

The Letter in the Writing Cabinet: The Emotional Life of an 18th-Century Journeyman

This article examines a note written by the journeyman cabinet-maker Jacob Arend (1688-1744) in 1716. Arend concealed this note in a writing cabinet, now in the collection of the V&A, which he produced in the workshop of his brother Servatius Arend at Würzburg. The article reveals the note's emotional subtext by considering the social and cognitive worlds of early modern artisans.

The Cabinet with the Letter: Luxury and Poverty in 18th-Century Würzburg

The letter hidden inside the writing cabinet made by the journeymen Jacob Arend and Johannes Wittalm paints a rather bleak picture. And yet, in contrast to this sombre note, the cabinet itself embodies both luxury and extravagance. This article shows that, like Arend’s letter, this writing cabinet can tell us a great deal about the men who made it, and the wider cultural contexts within which they worked.

Contradicting Prospero: the prompt book collection in the V&A Department of Theatre & Performance

Prompt books are some of the most important records of theatrical performance on the British stage. These documents, with their annotations, coded markings and doodles, offer vital clues to the staging of plays, often in an era before technology enabled productions to be photographed or recorded. They help us to reconstruct how a performance might have looked or sounded, providing unique insights into performers’ gestures and movements, and how props and scenery were used, from Handel to the 21st century.