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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

V&A Day

The Victoria and Albert Museum is a massive museum in South Kensington in London. It covers 12.5 acres, and contains the world's largest collection of decorative arts and design.

In 1515, Pope Leo X commissioned the painter Raphael to design tapestries to hang in the Sistine Chapel. Over the next six years the cartoons he and his assistants produced were woven into tapestries by Flemish tapestry-makers. In 1623 the Prince of Wales, later to be Charles I, who lost his head in 1649, brought the cartoons to England. They have been on loan to the V&A from the royal collection since 1865.
This year, to celebrate the visit of Pope Benedict to the UK, the Vatican offered to send the tapestries to the V&A to reunite them with their cartoons for the first time in nearly 500 years. Not an opportunity to be missed. And today I made sure that I didn't miss it.
The exhibition was free, but it was necessary to obtain a timed ticket to ensure that entry to the gallery could be controlled, and to give visitors the chance to see the display without being overwhelmed by crowds. My ticket was for two hours after the time I queued for the ticket.
I had a peek at the fashion gallery, which includes items from history up to the present day, including an outfit of Princess Diana's, and a dress by the recently deceased Alexander McQueen.
But my main interest while I waited was the newly-revamped Medieval and Renaissance galleries.

For fans of The Da Vinci Code, this is a stained glass window from La Sainte Chapelle in Paris, where an important part of the action takes place. I have NO idea how it came to be in the V&A.

Equally impressive is this Leonardo Da Vinci notebook. There is more information from the plaque in the next photo.

The museum is so vast that it has, not just statuary and other decorative household effects, but whole chunks of building on display.

Sorry this picture is a bit blurred, but it does give you a sense of scale.

Finally the time for my visit arrived. The display is arranged so that you can turn from cartoon to tapestry and back to make comparisons. There are tapestries of 4 of the cartoons. I can honestly say that the cartoons are vastly superior, and that any changes made by the weavers did not improve the appearance, though I can see why they added so much red, to make the effect more vibrant. The haloes that are so delicate in the cartoons look like dinner plates on the tapestries.
Here is the tapestry of The Sacrifice at Lystra:
And here is the original cartoon:

No prizes for noticing that the weaving process reverses the picture.
The cartoons were cut into sections to be handed out to weavers, and in some places you can see where the tapestry sections were woven together.
I think our creative star JoJo might need a couple of lifetimes to complete one of these giants.


SnarkAngel said...

Glad to hear the Pope did something beneficial for you, Val! LOL. Fascinating stuff. Whenever I go to a museum intending to spend a couple of hours, I end up spending most of the day. Thanks for sharing!

Eliza said...

I really must get there one's on my list of places I really want to visit.

Love the architecture being on display..that staircase is lovely

JoJo said...

Sounds like a really cool museum!

Music Wench said...

I visited back the museum when I visited England. Thanks for sharing those lovely photos!

potzina said...

Thanks for sharing, Val. This post is very interesting.
I can't help you because I have no idea either how and why this stained glass window came to be in the V&A. Why not? In Paris, there are Egyptian obelisks! ;)

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