Subjects for sculpture: guardian beasts
Animals are often portrayed as guardians in sculpture. These are commonly found on buildings, especially at entrances, and on funerary monuments and tombs, where they sometimes act also as guides to the next world. The V&A has many examples of animal sculpture in both roles in its collections.
Subjects for sculpture: portrait busts
Funerary monuments and portrait busts were the most common ways in which people were commemorated in sculpture. Sometimes the two were combined: a bust was placed on a funerary monument, or a copy of a bust on a church monument was displayed in the family house.
Designated the National Collection of Sculpture, this collection concentrates on Western European Sculpture from the 4th century to the end of the 19th century. Highlights of the collection include masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance, ivory carvings of all periods, Northern European wood and other sculpture, commemorative medals and plaster casts. The sculpture collection contains approximately 22,000 objects.