The V&A Connection for Furniture Lovers

 Victoria & Albert Museum

Front Entrance of The Victoria & Albert Museum


In our ongoing quest for knowledge about antique furniture, the history of style, and the great collections of Gothic and Renaissance pieces, all paths seem to lead to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London's Borough of South Kensington.  Not only is this museum one of the world's foremost repositories of furniture as art, its staff of experts and scholars is unrivaled.  Particularly for people interested in 19th century furniture who do not speak French, various publications in English by experts connected to the museum will help expand knowledge and reward curiosity.  What follows are some publications whose authors have a current or past connection to the museum.


Christopher Wilk, who is the Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, has a new book out on the furniture in the museum's collection (see below).  We think Christopher is brilliant, and not just because he and Meril Markley were in the same Art History class at Vassar.

Christopher Wilk and Meril Markley

Meril Markley & Christopher Wilk (Vassar College Art 105-106 Compatriots) in the Courtyard at the V&A

Plaques Commemorating the Architect's Faithful Companions


Carlo Crivelli's Madonna and Child


Christopher's knowledge and passion for furniture, in the context of the commercial and cultural traditions giving rise to it, are infectious.  He is also the editor of an excellent book relating the history of furniture from 1350 to the present through the V&A's own collection.  The widely-praised exhibit he curated, ran from April 6 to July 23, 2006, Modernism:  Designing a New World 1914-1939.



The Making of the British Galleries at the V&A: A Study in Museology

by Christopher Wilk & Nick Humphrey

Western Furniture: 1350 To the Present Day In the Victoria and Albert Museum London

by Christopher Wilk


Thanks to Christopher's recommendation, we have added The Romantic Interior by the late Clive Wainwright, formerly of the V&A, to our list of recommended reading.  The book is full of fascinating narrative and pictures of the great individual collections of the 18th and 19th centuries which centered largely around Gothic and Renaissance antiquities.  It is fascinating to read of the zeal with which collectors such as Walpole and Beckford scoured Europe for all manner of objects to be added to their highly specialized collections, taking particular advantage of the depressed prices and distressed sellers during and after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.  And it reminds us of how we and our clients take seriously a dedication to preserving and protecting the artistry of craftsmen from past centuries in order to celebrate them and enjoy the fruits of their labor today.


 Wainright - The Romantic Interior

Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home, 1750-1850

by Clive Wainwright


 Another fascinating book connected with the V&A is Carolyn Sargentson's Merchants and Luxury Markets -- The Marchands Merciers of Eighteenth Century Paris.  In it she details the businesses of the key suppliers to Paris' most conspicuous consumers before the Revolution changed their world forever.

Sargentson - Marchands Merciers

Merchants and Luxury Markets:  The Marchands Merciers of Eighteenth-Century Paris

by Carolyn Sargentson


Although the Gothic Revival in Britain spanned a longer period than in its Continental counterparts, this detailed and lushly illustrated story of the movement should be in the library of everyone whose passions include Gothic style decoration.

Megan Aldrich - Gothic Revival 

Gothic Revival

by Megan Aldrich