In the name of Research
Almost exactly a year ago I went with my sister to the V&A with the specific aim of seeking out all things Regency. I’m very lucky to live on the edge of London within striking distance of all it has to offer. On a very blustery and quite unpleasant day, my husband dropped me at the station and, two Underground trains and forty minutes later I found myself exiting South Kensington Station via the huge tunnel that leads to ‘The Museums’. Under cover all the way. It was packed! Half term. Maybe not the best time to go but wonderful to see so many excited children (and adults) heading to their chosen venue. I turned off at the arm signposted Victoria & Albert to find my sister already there but she hadn’t been waiting long. We headed straight to the café for coffee.
It’s all a bit of a blur but mobile phone cameras are a wonderful asset. So, in no particular order and with details courtesy of the information plates…
Watercolour BoxAbout 1820
As watercolour painting became increasingly popular among fashionable young men and women, suppliers of art materials such as Reeves and Woodyer in London began to sell portable paint boxes. Colours were pre-formed into cakes with a binding medium, avoiding the messy preparation previously needed. Wood, paper and mixed materials including pigments
One of the characters in the novel I was writing at the time is a keen artist so I was particularly interested in this. Easily portable and beautifully set out. I wanted it!
Walking Dress(spencer, skirt and bodice)1817-1820
England. Silk with satin appliqué, silk frogging, tassels and braid.
Women’s dress changed dramatically after 1785. The rich fabrics and complicated formal shapes of the late 18th century gave way to simple, lighter fabrics that draped easily. These new gowns achieved something of the effect of the simple tunics shown on classical Greek and Roman statues and vases.
Muslin embroidered with cotton thread.Fabric made in India, gown made in England.
England.Silk and net embroidery with silk thread; wired paper and muslin artificial flowers.
This last was, I think, my favourite piece. There are other photos, other descriptions, but I hope this will give you a taste and perhaps convey some of my excitement. One of the most difficult things was walking through some of the other galleries staring fixedly ahead. I was on a mission! But, oh, so many wonderful things to see. Almost inexpressible thanks to those who had the forethought to create these spaces and those who donated or loaned their artefacts for the continuing joy of anyone who chooses to go and see them.
Our last stop was back to the café for lunch. These lights were dazzling but not as dazzling as some of the amazing things we saw.
Now we’re in lockdown and I can only dream of such an expedition. Lucky I have these
Until next time