The V&A and the South Kensington System for Art Studies

Our last day in London found us re-visiting the V&A and investigating the 4th floor where it is simply described as Britain 1760-1900. In these galleries you will find an exhibit that features objects and drawings illustrating aspects of early British design education. Many students of Art and design do not realise that the process they partake in during the course of their degree stems from ideas about art education developed in the 19th century. One of those precedents is the South Kensington System which was a state run syllabus that was delivered in institutions across the UK. From the …

Werner’s nomenclature of colours

German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner developed a detailed nomenclature – or naming system – colour guide published in 1821 under the flowery title of Werner’s nomenclature of colours : with additions, arranged so as to render it highly useful to the arts and sciences, particularly zoology, botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and morbid anatomy : annexed to which are examples selected from well-known objects in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. Between the pages of this mouthful of a title is a type of colour dictionary which long predates Pantone colour swatches. It is an attempt to describe the colours of the …

Playing in the margins with Stephan Schriber’s Gothic manuscript

Stephan Schriber kept an interesting sketchbook, as he was a mediaeval monk living in the south-west of Germany, who produced illuminated manuscripts. Simply described, Stephan Schriber’s sketchbook – dating from 1494 – is a collection of decorations, patterns and illustrations, but if you stop and imagine how it might have been used to produce illuminated manuscripts, its role in the process becomes even more interesting. The manuscript is of course highly decorative. Often, when writers refer to ‘decoration’, they are trying to suggest that the work is not as important as a piece of Art with a capital ‘A’. ‘Decoration’ and …