Small Exhibitions Now at the V&A

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 5, 2009

From the V&A’s website:

Europe and the English Baroque: English Architecture 1660-1715
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1 May — 9 November 2009


Model for Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, Nicholas Hawksmoor, ca. 1694

Centred on the RIBA’s recently acquired model of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s baroque jewel Easton Neston (1694), this display will look at how continental buildings influenced architecture in Britain between the Restoration in 1660 and the publication in 1715 of the first volume of Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus (often taken as the symbolic opening of the Palladian revival). The influence was mostly through the medium of books and engravings as few English architects travelled abroad (exceptions were Christopher Wren, Roger Pratt and William Winde, and, at the beginning of the period, Balthasar Gerbier); consequently there was surprisingly little knowledge of continental architecture gained at first hand, and some of the translations from engraved plate to English buildings could be very surprising.

The display will contain architectural drawings by such luminaries as Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, William Talman and John Vanbrugh, taken partly from the RIBA’s own collection and augmented by loans from a number of British institutions including All Souls, the Queen’s College, Oxford, King’s College, Cambridge, Sir John Soane’s Museum and other institutional and private collections. The display is curated by Roger White and Charles Hind.

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Objects of Luxury: French Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 18 September 2009 — March 2010


Sugar basin and cover, Saint-Cloud, ca. 1700-20 (V&A: no. 487-1909)

During the eighteenth century France dazzled the rest of Europe through the brilliance of its court. The rich and fashionable lived in a world of unparalleled refinement, fuelling an insatiable market for luxury goods. However, the eighteenth century was also a time of intense scientific enquiry and innovative research which witnessed, throughout Europe, marvellous achievements in this sphere. One of the most exciting discoveries, after centuries of wonder and captivation, was the successful production of porcelain. Known as ‘white gold’, porcelain was produced for use in all aspects of fashionable public and private life; from banquets to boudoirs, from tea drinking to the toilette.

In the absence of known deposits of kaolin (the key ingredient in making true, or ‘hard-paste’, porcelain), a glassy-bodied, artificial, or ‘soft-paste’, porcelain had been produced in France since the end of the 17th century. It was more costly to make than the ‘hard paste’ but its sensuous charm soon earned it universal admiration. Its soft, easily fusible, wax-like glaze allowed colours to fuse deep within it, and its lower firing temperature allowed the use of a much broader range of colours. Of all the factories in France, the most renowned was the Royal Porcelain Manufacture at Sèvres. The protection of Louis XV and the patronage of his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, drew to Sèvres the best alchemists, designers and artists in Europe. The porcelain they produced was unequalled in quality, design and decoration. This display introduces the visitor to the major French factories and demonstrates the wide variety of objects they could provide for their fashionable clientele.

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An 18th-Century Enigma: Paul de Lamerie and the Maynard Master
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 11 May 2009 — May 2010


The Maynard Dish, 1736–37 (V&A: on loan from the Cahn family foundation)

Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) was the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century. A Huguenot (French Protestant), he came to London with his parents, fleeing persecution in France. His success lay in his own exceptional creativity in producing stunning objects, but also in his ability as a businessman, retailing some astonishingly spectacular silver using the most effective and innovative suppliers in the trade.

The silver shown here is associated with de Lamerie’s most brilliant craftsman, whose identity is still a mystery, who worked from 1737 to 1745. He is known as the Maynard Master, named after the dish made for Grey, 5th Baron Maynard now in the Cahn family collection. Other masterpieces marked by de Lamerie are from the collection of Sir Arthur Gilbert and this display celebrates the opening of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries at the V&A in 2009.

For more information about the V&A’s collection of silver by Paul de Lamerie, visit the Paul de Lamerie pages on the website. From there you can also download and print a trail to bring with you to the V&A, to help you find the highlights of the de Lamerie permanent collection across the galleries.

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