2/27/2010

A lovely day at the V and A.


I am a little late in writing about our most recent visit to London at half term but better late than never I suppose. Tony and I caught the train down to Euston and stayed for three nights in the city, primarily to visit our eldest son but also to cram in as many museums, galleries and shops as we could!

We managed to see the Van Gogh Exhibition at the Royal Academy, The Chris Ofili exhibition at the Tate Britain and some of the many treasures at The British Museum, but the jewel in the crown was a visit to the newly opened Medieval and Renaissance wing at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


There are now ten new galleries spread over three floors, textiles, and paintings, sculptures all of which are unmissable. There was so much to see and so little time to see it in, here a just a few of the very lovely and inspiring things that caught my eye.
“The Boar and Bear Hunt tapestry”, see detail above, dates back to the fourteen hundreds, as well as depicting the hunt in all its gory glory, the tapestry shows the costumes and fashions of the day. The lady above is proudly displaying her coat lined with miniver, an expensive fur made from the bellies of Baltic squirells. It is thought that a coat like this would have taken the fur from hundreds of squirrels killed during the winter months. I suppose conservation was not an issue back then! Click on the images for a closer look.


The highlight of the visit for me was this exquisite, tiny notebook, which belonged to Leonardo Da Vinci. There is something rather magical about seeing the handwriting of a famous person from the past, it retains an immediacy which the printed word lacks. I suppose it is a bit like the difference between a handshake and a text message.

Eventually we had to tear ourselves away from the museum and face the horrid, cold, wintery weather outside and thought how lovely and warm the lady with the miniver coat would have been.

24 comments:

  1. Ooh, how envious I feel!! To stroll through that new V & A wing on a wintry day... pure heaven. And you are so right about seeing the handwriting of someone illustrious.... infinitely more inspiring. I remember seeing Charlotte Bronte's own handwritten copy of Jane Eyre once at the British Museum. Overwhelming for me.

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  2. It must have been wonderful seeing so many treasures. Now I'm wanting to research miniver!

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  3. i nipped over from the boar and bear link! that is absolutely incredible! 40 square metres of weaving!!! astonishing. even more astonishing is the fact that the artist is unknown. can you imagine leaving that extraordinary achievement behind anonymously?! wow! steven

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  4. Oh what a wonderful day! I haven't managed to get to the V&A for several years, but having read your post I must try very hard to see this new wing soon. So glad you had such a lovely trip!

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  5. Leonardo's notebook! Truly a wonderful look-see.

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  6. Valerie, may I join with those prior comments, to say how much I would like to just hop over to the V&A tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to see what you've seen.

    On all my London visits, that museum has always been a must. I've spent hours up in the unheated textile study rooms doing my sketches from precious early embroideries and prints. (Back when I aspired to become a textile designer myself.)

    It's a wonderful building, so full of hidden and not-so-hidden treasures.

    Thank you for sharing your visit.

    I do agree about the spark of immediacy in seeing an artist's note book. Seeing an artist's actual handwriting too. Well...that spark really takes off.

    xo

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  7. Oh Valerie thank you for sharing this. I so wish I could go to the Victoria and Albert Museum. That little notebook is just amazing. You are so lucky to live where you can go to the exhibits. I visited England one time a number of years ago, and wanted to go, but didn't have the chance. I was in awe the whole time... walking the streets of Londond and Bath... walking the walls of Conwy Castle... We just don't have the same feeling here in the States. ~Vicki

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  8. The galleries look wonderful, Valerie. I know what you mean about the handwriting - I remember sitting in the Archives Office at Lincoln when researching for a permanent display at our musuem and reading Matthew Flinder's letters home from his voyage to Australia on The Investigator - I was moved almost to tears by them. Glad you had a rewarding visit to all the exhibitions:)

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  9. Have never been to the V & A, and it is on my to-do list this year, especially after reading your blogpost. (I think I would embarrass Andy by crying over Da vinci's notebook!)

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  10. Haven't been for ages, and it is such a great place to explore. Great post.

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  11. I'm glad you like the colours in my quilts - I would take commissions!!!ha ha!!!
    Keep blogging because you never know. Someone from the V&A has spotted my blog and invited me to the preview of the Quilt exhibition which opens next Wednesday!! I can't believe it! Perhaps you'll have to go back to visit this new exhibit - it promises to be wonderful!!

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  12. Oh how I wish I could have been there!

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  13. Hello from Michigan. WOW thanks for sharing your trip to London and the fantastic Museum. Such wonderful treasure to see. Hugs Judy

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  14. valerie, i am envious! The V&A is one of my favourite places to get completely lost in! the bok must have been such an amazing thing to see, to imagine leonardo sitting writing in it! looks like you had a wonderful time x

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  15. Oooh that book of Leonardo's! How I would love to sit in a quiet place and flick through its pages.

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  16. The notebook is exquisite. It would be fabulous to be able to turn the pages and find whats on each page.
    You must feel inspired after all those wonderful exhibitions, lucky you.

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  17. I too feel jealous! I'd love to see this museum. We have a living museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts called Plimoth Plantation. It's a replica of the colony set up the first settlers here in the "colonies" in New England. In November 2006 they started recreating a woman's embroidered waistcoat from the early 1600s. It was based on 2 pieces in the V&A collection. The project was documented at www.plimoth.org/embroidery-blog/.com and now resides at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware.

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  18. What a fascinating book that is. I would love to see that. It almost brings the past alive to imagine him siting and writing in that notebook. The tapestry is stunning too. I will definitely have to visit that wing although I was at the V&A late last year.

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  19. It is a very grand art museum.
    Decorations of pillars are luxurious.

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  20. Thank you for taking me along to such a fascinating place!

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  21. That sounds like such an inspiring visit to London and what a treat to see Leonardo's book! Thanks for sharing your visit to the museum...

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  22. thank you for sharing your tour! Leonardo's notebook just looks amazing!

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  23. Colour me green with envy too.
    I did indeed click on the pictures
    to see the details and now I am curious. Was one stitch used for the whole tapestry?
    It is amazing that the colours are still so vivid after all this time.
    I suppose that some fortunate person has the job of Conservator of Fabrics.
    Thank you for taking us there.

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