Saturday, 23 August 2014

Big and small in the V&A

Differences in scale can serve to highlight just how extraordinary some objects in museums actually are.

On a visit to the V&A,
we saw the very big and the very small.

We began with the very big.
Just because something was big,
it did not put the Victorians off collecting,
and bringing things back to display.

This is not the original
Trajans Column, AD113, from Rome,
but a cast made in plaster, now in the Cast Courts.
The original column is 38 meters high.
The cast has been cut in half to fit into the V&A.

There is a continuous frieze running around it,
depicting over 2,500 figures.

As we considered the enormity of making plaster casts of such huge feats of architecture,
we asked ourselves whether the V&A did this themselves.
They did.
This 'remarkable Victorian phenomenon' of collecting casts
was embraced by the V&A in the nineteenth century
and is now one of the few cast collections around the world to survive.

Here's how casts were made.

It's brilliant how you can walk amongst these huge objects,
close up to replicas of architecture from all over Europe,
close enough to see even the smallest of details.

Like this tomb of St Sebaldus 1529,
from Germany,
originally in bronze.

 Supported by giant snails.

We liked the snails, they "looked grumpy."
But why snails?

And the front of this cathedral from Spain.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, 1188. 

My only experience with plaster, was making Beatrix Potter characters as a child
using kits with rubber moulds.
These casts put mine to shame, and I can still remember
that, "I never really got round to painting them",
I tell my fifteen year old.
Her knowledge of plaster:
"did you know the wands in Harry Potter are made of plaster."

On to the very small.
This is why we had come to the V&A,
to revisit the Silver Galleries.

Remembered from six years ago,
the dolls house furniture.

Tea sets on trays.

 Pots and pans.

Place settings.


Excuse the chipped nails.
But look how small that teapot actually is.

Sugar shakers, cutlery canteens and candle sticks.

Teeny, tiny plates.

It was all there,
just as it had been six years ago.
We still want it.
Perhaps you never really grow out of wanting a dolls house
and all the possibilities of the furniture required to fill it.
Not until you're old enough to know how much polishing all that silver requires, you don't.

Big and small in the V&A.
Details on the V&A website.

The dolls house furniture was 
a teeny, tiny part of their huge collection of silver.


  1. Buy and sell new and used modern, outdoor, office, bedroom and home furniture.
    Choose from a great selection of gently used furniture for every room in your home.
    More here cheap furniture

  2. Both collections are amazing, the large and the small!!! They are equally intricate and interesting in their details regardless of the size. I made similar plaster casts as a child and never painted mine either. I had no idea about the Harry Potter wands though! xx

    1. Yes, they are amazing. The V&A is the place my 15yr old will happily visit, without me pushing to go.

  3. Although I am really familiar with the V & A, I haven't explored either of these collections. The dolls house silver is amazing. I've never had a dolls house but miniature things like that fascinate me.

    1. You should visit. Lots of decorative arts. Been enjoying watching the progess your dolls are making.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...