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by Glorie
Last updated 7 years ago

Arts & Music
Museums and Galleries

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The paintings collection was an original part of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The first of his galleries opened in 1857 and is the earliest surviving part of the V&A. The building was extended with further top-lit galleries in 1858-65.In 1857 John Sheepshanks offered the Museum his collection of 500 modern British oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. His gift included major works by Turner and Constable, and pictures by some Victorian artists. He preferred the 'open and airy situation' of South Kensington to the polluted atmosphere of central London, and believed in the importance of making art accessible to the public. The museum received the seal of royal approval in 1865 when Queen Victoria agreed to lend the Raphael cartoons, the greatest cycle of Italian Renaissance pictures in England. These public-spirited gestures encouraged a series of bequests and gifts, which form the core of the Museum’s collection of pictures. Richard Ellison's collection of 100 British watercolours was given by his widow in 1860 and 1873 'to promote the foundation of the National Collection of Water Colour Paintings'. Over 500 British and European oil paintings, watercolours and miniatures and 3000 drawings and prints were bequeathed in 1868-9 by the clergymen Chauncey Hare Townshend and Alexander Dyce.Several French paintings entered the collection as part of the 260 paintings and miniatures that formed part of the Jones bequest of 1882 and as such are displayed in the galleries of continental art 1600-1800, including the portrait of the Duc d'Alençon by François Clouet, Gaspard Dughet and works by François Boucher including his portrait of Madame de Pompadour dated 1758, Jean François de Troy, Jean-Baptiste Pater and their contemporaries.

This room features the oil sketches of John Constable as well as Thomas Gainsborough's unique 'showbox'. Thirty of Constable's oil sketches given to the V&A by Isabel Constable are exhibited here.

Thomas Gainsborough's 'showbox'.

Oil painting on glass, 'Coastal Scene with Sailing and Rowing Boats and Figures on Shore', Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1783

Oil painting on glass, 'Coastal Scene with Sailing and Rowing Boats and Figures on Shore', Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1783

Oil sketch, 'Buildings on rising ground near Hampstead' by Constable.

Oil painting on glass, 'Wooded Landscape with Herdsman driving Cattle', Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1781-1782

Room 88: Gainsborough's Showbox & Constable's Oil Sketches

Room 87: Constable, Turner & the Exhibition Landscape

In this room major landscape paintings by Constable are exhibited beside works by his competitor Turner and their contemporaries, including James de Loutherbourg, Peter De Wint, Francis Danby and James Ward. By the early 1800s, landscape pictures were hugely popular in Britain, and played a major role in the formation of a distinct British cultural identity. John Constable concentrated on the Suffolk scenery he knew best, while JMW Turner travelled widely, and emphasised dramatic effects. Others sought inspiration from the Old Masters, exotic or poetic subjects.

IThis room houses the surviving designs painted by Raphael, one of the greatest of all Italian Renaissance artists, for tapestries commissioned in Rome in 1515 by Pope Leo X. These were to hang in the Sistine chapel on the walls beneath the ceiling by his contemporary Michelangelo. Although originally only designs (known as 'cartoons') to guide the weavers, they are now among the greatest artistic treasures in Britain. Owned by the British Royal Family since 1623, they have been on loan to the Museum since 1865.

Room 48a: The Raphael Cartoons

Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-96), 'The Industrial Arts as Applied to War', Museum no. 296-1907

Room 102 & Room107: Lord Leighton's Frescoes

Commissioned as part of the decoration of the new Museum in 1868 from the famous Victorian painter Lord Frederic Leighton, these paintings depict the "Arts of Industry as applied to War" and " Peace." Also on display are first sketches and full-size cartoons.

Room 90: Prints & Drawings

This room contains changing displays of prints and drawings. A recent display, ‘Off the Page’, showcased book illustration from famous and much loved books selected from the Museum's collection of original drawings and prints by artists from Durer to Dulac. The inaugural display in this room, ‘A Spirit of Place’, celebrated the lively continuity of the landscape tradition in British printmaking. The prints which had all been made during the last 100 years were chosen from the Museum’s collections in the Word and Image department. They include recent acquisitions made with the generous support of the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund.

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John Sheepshanks

Paintings & Drawings

We are on the sixth floor of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is from here that our introduction to English school of painting starts. We have a nice opportunity to see the paintings by the greatest English artists Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, Lord Frederic Leighton... In other rooms, you can explore the magnificent frescoes, prints and drawings.

Do you like painting? We do.


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