And The Winner Is…

23 Sep


First, I would like to thank everyone who voted on where to send me. I thought I might have to vote for the choice myself, so thanks so much for taking the time to help me choose!

Yesterday I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and spent just over four hours browsing the massive collection. The experience was incredible and I can’t even begin to recite all the many things I saw. I was able to take several pictures because they allow flash photography in almost every part of the museum!

The museum building is beautiful, and I could spot it’s tower from quite a ways away.


I was greeted by this huge blue and yellow blown glass chandelier in the main hall:

The collections are displayed in halls that compose a large square; in the center is an open courtyard area with a café, pond and garden. It was a sunny day and the weather was wonderful so I had my lunch outside and got to take a few photographs!




Two exhibits that were off limits to photography of any kind were the Raphaels and the Jewelry collection.

In the Raphael room, the canvases were massive, lining the walls all around a large set of panels. The fabric panels were in three layers, with the two outside layers inverted slightly to the center row, so that you could recline and look up at the huge drawings from different angles. The area was called the “Textile Field” and was part of the V&A special exhibit called ‘The Power of Making’. Several people were taking naps and I even saw one couple taking photos of each other while one would pretend to ‘swim’ in the massive sea of panels.

As far as the Jewelry display, I have to say it is quite literally the ‘crowning jewel’ of the V&A, if you’ll pardon my horrific pun. (Really, that was both unnecessary and inexcusable.) This exhibit alone was worth the tube ride to South Kensington! It was incredible. The entire room was dark, except for the rows and rows of jewelry. I’ve never seen so many diamonds or oversized stones in my life. I’m talking pendants that were easily a foot long, with flowers and leaves all entirely made up of diamonds. An entire crown made of the most flawless, pure orange coral. Amethyst chunks the size of credit cards, set in solid diamond pavé. Tiaras, hair pins, rings, bracelets, pendants, all glittering. I almost had an aneurysm. Or a fainting spell. Whichever is classier.

Alas, the two exhibits I was most looking forward to just happened to be closed! Both the Photography exhibit (more than 500,000 photos!) and the Fashion exhibits were both closed for updating. Nonetheless, I had a quite a good time wandering around and staring, agog, at all the antiquities.

Here are some photos of all the wonderful things I did get to see!  (Please ignore my reflections in some of these shots, most everything was behind glass!)

A fierce looking fountain spout

Stained glass from a Cistercian abbey, near Cologne, 1520

St. Peter in full papal regalia, holding the ‘keys’ to Heaven (Matthew), 1520.

St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr; complete with tacky robe and rock lodged in his head

I couldn’t really do this justice by photograph, but it was part of an altar piece and the inside was fired glass so it sparkled like an actual sun!

Bronze and gilt hairpins from the Koryo dynasty, 1100-1300.

A bronze amulet and pear-shaped jar from the Choson dynasty, 18-1900; 14-1500.

Bridal panels from a formal marriage ceremony, 1850.

One thing I learned in the Chinese art section was that Europeans sent prints, drawings, etchings, bank notes, etc. to China so that they could have porcelain replicas of famous paintings or specific images. But what was even more interesting were the Chinese free interpretations of European life, displaying a certain “naive charm” that the Europeans ate up! See how the couple on the right looks particularly Asian?, 18th century.

Porcelain figures were also really popular exports from China. This pair of figures had moveable heads mounted on long stems. 1740-60.


Wine pot in the shape of the Chinese character for longevity. From the Qing dynasty, 1680-1720.

This tea bowl was made using a technique developed by the artist, where some of the glaze develops sunken cracks and another glaze where the cracks protrude. 1997.

A tomb model from the Han dynasty, made of mostly hollow molded parts. 25-220AD.

This horse from the Tang dynasty was really intricate and represents a breed of horse from Central Asia, imported to China for it’s speed and endurance. 700-50.

A Qing dynasty water dropper in the shape of a squirrel. I want one of these! 1662-1722.

Vase with bat design from the Qing dynasty. Not to be confused with the later works of Leon Piepenburg’s ‘Blue Period’.1796-1820.

Japanese vase


Tiny Japanese vases!


Netsuke! Since traditional Japanese costume had no pockets, tobacco, medicine and other day to day items were carried in pouches. These pouches hung from a cord which passed behind a belt and a netsuke was tied to the other end of the cord to keep it from slipping. They are about the size of two fingers, and incredibly intricate! 1700-1800.

This bust of the 9th Earl of Pembroke had marks along his face, purposefully put there by the sculptor almost certainly to represent the smallpox scarring of the subject. 1747.

This was the top of a monument to Emily Georgiana, Countess of Winchilsea who died fairly young. I found the inscription particularly moving. 1850.

Eve Listening to the Voice of Adam by Edward Hodges Baily (the same artist of the monument to Nelson in Trafalgar Square) illustrates the passage in Paradise Lost, where Eve sits by a lake in the Garden and describes a watery shape to Adam. He warns her that it is her own reflection. 1842.
The statue of the left is a replica of the original bust on the right. The one of the left, however, was created using 3D imaging. A computer reads the data for a three dimensional image and recreates it. In this case, the artist added a fancy hat but I think it suits her!

The bust of Lady Catherine Stepney, who wanted her likeness made as Cleopatra. Do you see the asp curling around her wrist? 1836.

In this sculpture, Truth rips out the double tong of Falsehood and has pushed away his mask, revealing his terrible face. You can see Falsehoods serpent tails beneath the drapery. The full size model of this and it’s companion, Valour and Cowardice, are part of the monument to the Duke of Wellington in St. Paul’s Cathedral. 1857-66.

Portrait of Nita Maria Schonfeld Resch, Nita was the wife of the scupltor, Conrad Dressler, who added red to the terracotta to enhance the naturalism of this bust. 1856.

The Age of Innocence, modeled after the daughter of one of the sculptor’s, Alfred Drury, friends. This became an icon of the New Sculpture movement in Britain because of it’s naturalism and 15th century Italian style. 1897.

Albert Toft’s The Bather. 1915.

Instructions for the modern lady for how to and how NOT to get into an automobile with grace and style. 1950.

Indian jewelry during the reign of the British empire.

Venetian fan holder with ostrich feathers, 1550.

Tassels from old British tapestries

This dress was from another example from the “Power of Making” exhibit of 3D creation. A computer “printed” this nylon in a technique called additive manufacturing. No sewing machine or handwork was used to make this dress, it is completely seamless. Pretty amazing, huh?

A British porcelain vanity with gold detailing! Beautiful!

A mantua and petticoat. A woman had to turn sideways to go through doors in this court dress. No thanks. 1740-45.

British portrait of Janet Carmichael, later Countess of Hyndford. 1750.

The ‘Bloom’ Light, from the “Power of Making” exhibit. This lamp has an articulating shade that allows you to decide how much light you want diffused. All of the moving parts are created in one “print” and the lamp emerges from the printing machine complete with no assembly required!

Moschino bag meant to look like an ice cream scoop

Another baby enjoying the outside fountain

Diamond and jeweled snuffboxes. The last two were from the personal collection of Frederick the Great of Prussia who had a great passion for boxes. He even banned the import of French gold boxes in an effort to prop up Berlin goldsmiths. A box even saved his life once by deflecting a Russian bullet at the Battle of Kunersdorf. 1765-75.

Tutu for a Japanese ballet called Bugaku. The skirt is meant to resemble the petals of a chrysanthemum and the sleeves a kimono. 1966.

A beautiful wooden marionette horse.
Currently, I am planning a quick getaway to Paris for a few days this week since I don’t start class until October 3rd. My friend Drew has given me some tips on where to stay and what to say! I’m a little worried since I don’t speak any French whatsoever. I know the French just love clueless American tourists!! Maybe we can come to some sort of diplomatic agreement and just speak Spanish?



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