Monday, December 10, 2012

Collecting Christmas: the Victoria & Albert Museum

Turns out it's not just Christmas celebrants like myself who have boxes of holiday items stored away for most of the year. So does London's V&A!

Below, a peek at a few of the holiday-related objects in their collection.

Pieces from the Christmas Pudding series designed by English artist Eric Ravilious for Wedgwood in 1938. Ravilious, a highly respected illustrator, was sought out by Wedgwood for not only this series, but several others, as well as the design of a mug for the coronation of Edward VIII. Each of his designs became hugely popular, and remained in production through the 1950s.

Marionettes of the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge, made by Frances and Peter Grant circa 1979-80 and used in their puppet performance of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

A bauble, or Christmas ball, believed to be German, circa 1880-1900. The ornament, which is made of  blown yellow glass that has been silvered on the inside, originally entered the V&A's collection in 1916 as "a Witches ball."

The Nativity (detail), from a lavishly decorated prayer book by the French miniaturist Jean Bourdichon. The book, which dated to circa 1498, is believed to have once belonged to Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England and third wife of Louis XII of France.

A Louis XIV-style table made by the French firm of Edouard Kreisser in 1855, was ordered by Queen Victoria as a Christmas present for her husband, Prince Albert. The table also served as a souvenir of their 1854 visit to Paris, a trip that took them to the Exposition Universelle and introduced them to Emperor Napoleon III. It is made of tulip and other woods, with mounts of silvered and gilded bronze. The frieze is set with a porcelain plaque that carries their intertwined initials, V and A. The table (along with a matching cabinet) were used in the Small Drawing room at Osborne House, the royal family's home on the Isle of Wight. 

A printed velvet evening dress with a machine-lace skirt and tulle petticoat, designed by the British firm Idol for Liberty & Co.'s 1995 holiday window display at their Regent Street shop in London. The dress was inspired by Medieval and Renaissance costumes but detailed with Uzbekistani-style beadwork.