Engraved Ornament project

The V&A has one of the most important collections of engraved ornament in the world. With funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the museum has embarked on a project to catalogue all 24,000 prints, thereby making them available to visitors and scholars online. The collection spans four centuries with designs for everything from jewellery to tomb-stones. Through these posts we will be revealing some of the highlights.

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Women and the production of ornament prints

Most often when we read about the history of it records the achievements of male artists. However from early on there have also been women artists. In Book XXXV of his Natural History Pliny the Elder (AD 25-AD 79) describes a number of women artists including Timarete of Athens (5th century BC) and Iaia or […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing: Part 3: inscriptions on ornament prints

Some prints in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum have been embellished by their early owners through the addition of inscriptions in pen and ink. This last part of ‘Cutting, colouring and inscribing’ looks at different examples of writing on some of these prints. These give an insight into the past lives of […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing Part 2: Colouring in

In the second part of three blogs looking at past intervention to ornament engravings this entry considers enlivening prints through the application of colour. Prints are commonly a monotone medium. From the early days of printing there has been an interest in producing coloured images. One way this is achieved is through colouring a black […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing Part 1: extracting ornament: cutting out designs from ornament prints

Produced as designs for the decorative arts, from early on ornament prints also appealed to collectors. In some cases these prints, intended to inspire designs from artists and craftsmen, appear to have inspired their past owners to embellish or change their form. The next three blog posts will investigate some embellishments made by previous owners […]

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Blackwork prints: Part 3: the demise of the blackwork ornament print

As discussed in the previous blog entry by the seventeenth century printmakers were displaying their technical mastery through combining engraving and blackwork in their plates. This was soon followed in the second decade of the seventeenth century with new developments to create tonal modelling and a more feathery style. Figure 1 Esaias van Hulsen Plate […]

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Blackwork Prints: Part 2: Technical mastery and enlivening blackwork ornament prints

The technique of blackwork engraving, using goldsmith’s tools to gouge out large channels for ink was developed for jewellery designs at the end of the sixteenth century. Part two of this series of three blog entries will look at the highly skilled developments in this technique at the turn of the seventeenth century.

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Blackwork prints: Part 1:Early blackwork prints, the development of a new technique and its uses

The next three blog posts will look at blackwork prints. Developed at the end of the sixteenth-century this technique was used by a number of engravers producing ornament prints. This first blog post will consider the origins, early style and uses of blackwork engravings. In the last decades of the sixteenth century a new technique […]

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The Life and Work of Etienne Delaune (1)

The work of Etienne Delaune creates a vivid portrait of a cosmopolitan artist who worked on a number of different subjects in various styles, and whose career was marked by both success and insecurity.Probably born in 1518, Delaune worked as a goldsmith in Paris in the 1550s. In 1552 he was appointed to the royal mint, where he would have produced metalwork designs. However, this post was cut short over disputes about wages: Delaune only held the post for six months.

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Cupid, draw back your bow

Guest bloge entry by Bryony Bartlett-RawlingsFigure 1: V&A inventory number 29876.4Juan Dolívar after Jean Bérain the ElderPossibly after a tapestry design by Jean Bérain the Elder1685-1693Every year around Valentine’s Day images of Cupid begin to appear on cards and in shops advertising gifts to buy for our loved ones.

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