Episode 2 of Secrets of the Museum covered an incredible variety of objects from the V&A, from the spectacular masterpieces of the Renaissance by Raphael to smaller – but equally dazzling – jewellery.
As with last week, I wanted to share some of the other ways you can find out more about the objects featured. Starting with jewellery, you might like our online history of jewellery, which begins in the ancient world, but includes the remarkable trembling spray ornament. For some, the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery needs no introduction, but if you’ve not visited the space before, then hopefully this short film will give you and idea of what to look out for:
Two of the highlights of the collection were made as gifts. Queen Victoria’s coronet was made by Joseph Kitching, partner at Kitching and Abud, but commissioned by Prince Albert. There is more on the coronet here. The other piece featured in the BBC Two film was a ring designed in 2014 by London-based jeweller G (Glenn Spiro) for Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. The ring is shaped like a butterfly, and sits on the back of the finger as if ready to take flight; as the wearer moves their hand, the wings gently flutter. You can see the movement and find out more about the ring below:
For even more on the collection, the book Jewels and Jewellery by curator Clare Phillips, covers pretty much every aspect you might need.
While the Papillon ring is designed to move, it was clear from the film that Meleager presented certain difficulties in that regard. Made by one of the finest masters of bronze sculpture of the later 15th century, Antico Pier Jacopo di Antonio Alari-Bonacolsi (known as Antico), the statuette has to be kept in an environment with a low relative humidity – below 30%. For more detail, it’s worth taking a look at this article from the Conservation team. Bronze sculpture in the Italian Renaissance was intended to embody power and authority, and to emulate the classical past. For an overview described as ‘Everything you need to know about Renaissance bronzes’ (Charles Avery, The Burlington Magazine), see Peta Motture’s recent book The Culture of Bronze.
The new scans made of the Raphael Cartoons are truly exciting for the Digital Media team. We’re busy working on ideas for the transformation of the Raphael Court, and everything we are planning revolves around the new images made possible by the photography shown being made in the Secrets film. The space itself will reopen in late 2020 after refurbishment, but the story of the commission is told here. Moving them has always been a bit of an undertaking.
Ana Debenedetti, who featured last night, has written a detailed history of how (and why) the Cartoons came to be at the V&A in The Lives of the Objects.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that it is possible to tour the Clothworkers’ Centre in Olympia on the second Wednesday and last Friday of the month (there are details here). Places are limited, and you need to book in advance…