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Play galleries introduction
Welcome to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Europe galleries: a journey through over 200 years of European art, design and history.
1600 to 1815 was a time of great change in Europe. At the beginning, Italy was the leader of art and design, but France soon took over. Goods and materials from overseas were initially rare and expensive novelties, but 200 years later they were commonplace. At first, luxury, privacy and comfort were a mark of great privilege, but by 1800 they were enjoyed by many more people. Together, these changes laid the foundations of the world we know today.
The galleries are a suite of seven rooms, taking you on journey from the Baroque era to the defeat of Napoleon. They start by the steps from the Grand Entrance, in Room 7, and end by the exit to the Tunnel, in Room 1.
Along the way, you’ll discover a rhythm of long, rectangular galleries alternating with rooms given to a single theme: The Cabinet, The Salon and The Masquerade. Each one offers a special experience. You’ll see when you get there.
You’ll also find three historical interiors: there’s a wood-panelled bedchamber from a 17th-century French country mansion, a little painted room from an 18th-century Parisian townhouse, and a magical gilded and mirrored 18th-century room from Northern Italy. Look out for them along the way.
- ‘Minuet IV’ by Pedro António Avondano (1714–1782). Performed by L'Avventura London, directed by Žak Ozmo. From the album: ‘18th-century Portuguese Love Songs’, Hyperion Records. Courtesy of Hyperion Records Ltd, London.
- ‘Sonata no. 11 in B flat, op. 22: Allegro con brio’ by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). Played by Zvi Meniker. From the album: ‘Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas on Period Instruments’, Claves Records. Permission to use this track kindly provided by Claves Records.
- ‘Prelude in C’ by Louis Couperin (c.1626–1661). Played by Bob van Asperen. From the album: ‘Passacaille de Mr Couperin’, AE-10114, AEOLUS. Courtesy of AEOLUS Music, Germany.
- ‘Chaconne et Coeur. C’est Médor qu’une Reine si belle’ by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687) and Philippe Quinault (1635–1688). Performed by Les Talens Lyriques, directed by Christophe Rousset. From the album: ‘Lully – Roland’, Ambroisie. Courtesy of Naïve Records and Les Talens Lyriques.
- ‘Totus Amore languens’ by Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725). Performed by Il Seminario Musicale, with Véronique Gens and Gérard Lesne. From the album: ‘Alessandro Scarlatti Motets’, Virgin Veritas. Licensed courtesy of Warner Music UK Ltd.
Audio guide supported by The BAND Trust