Victoria and Albert Museum
Painting Galleries

The Victoria and Albert Museum holds one of the largest collections of paintings in the UK and it may even rival the size of the collection held by the National Gallery. This may be because paintings were a large part of the museum from its beginning.

I am no expert on painting and I couldn't even begin to tell you much about the individual paintings or artists on display in the galleries but I do know that what I saw blew me away, everywhere I looked I was confronted by a great work of art.

After spending just a few minutes in the painting galleries I soon realised that I was surrounded by works of some of the most famous artists in the world, such as Turner and Constable.

Constable Paintings In the V and A Museum

The painting galleries contain not just watercolours and oil paintings but also many drawings and prints too.

There are many different rooms within the painting galleries all with their own identity and area of interest. The rooms are:

  • Room 88: Gainsborough's Showbox & Constable's Oil Sketches - Includes thirty oil sketches by john Constable and landscapes painted in oils onto glass by Thomas Gainsborough.
  • Room 48a: The Raphael Cartoons - More information about these can be found below
  • Room 87: Landscapes by Constable, Turner and some of their contemporary artists.
  • Room 102: Lord Leighton's Frescoes - These fresco's were commissioned by the museum to decorate the walls of the new museum in 1868.
  • Room 90: Prints & Drawings - changing displays
  • Room 90a: Portrait Miniatures
  • Room 81: The Ionides Collection - A fine art collection of a Mr Constantine Ionides illustrating the developing tastes of Victorian Britain.
  • Room 82: The Sheepshanks Collection - The original donated paintings to the museum in 1857.
  • Room 88a: Watercolours & drawings

This video will give you just a brief glimpse of some of the great paintings on show at the Victoria and Albert Museums Painting Galleries.

The Raphael Cartoons

One of the finest treasures within the museum is the Raphael Cartoons and they are displayed in a special room which is dimly lit to protect the paintings.

Raphael was considered the finest artist in the world during the 18th and 19th centuries and his paintings were therefore widely celebrated and copied.

The cartoons were actually preparatory drawings for huge tapestries which were commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 to cover the wall in the Sistine Chapel. The cartoons show scenes from the Bible of the works of St Peter and St Paul.

After the Tapestries were made the cartoons were obtained in 1623 by the Prince of Wales (the future King Charles I) and brought to England. They remained in the Royal collection until 1865 when Queen Victoria lent them to the Victoria and Albert museum and here they have remained.

The following video was made by the museum and not only shows the cartoons themselves in the V and A but also gives you the background to how they were made and then turned into the world famous tapestries.

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