London’s extraordinary museums regularly draw millions of visitors. From blockbuster exhibitions at The Tate Modern to the city’s array of hidden private collections, we Londoners have access to incredible art. One of our favourites is the Victoria & Albert Museum. The city’s preeminent design museum, the V&A’s collection spans works ranging from marble sculptures to Japanese prints and everything in between. We’ve found 10 highlights from its galleries that visitors won’t want to miss. And best of all, from The Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge, the South Kensington institution is but a hop, skip, and a jump away.
1. “Job” Poster by Alphonse Mucha
Art Nouveau’s most famous artist, the Czech-born Alphonse Mucha, gained especial notoriety for his posters. His iconic designs are known for featuring black outlined-women with flowing hair and gauzy dresses.
2. “The Three Graces” by Antonio Canova
Carved in the early 19th century by Roman sculptor Antonio Canova, the “Three Graces” displays Classical imagery and techniques. The gorgeous, subtly sculpted work is carved from marble and depicts Zeus’ mythological daughters.
3. “Coronation Day” by Cecil Beaton
Cecil Beaton’s collection of Royal Portraits is a highlight for visitors to London, and photographs like this one offer a particularly engaging window into the Queen’s Coronation and youth.
4. “Trees at Hampstead” by John Constable
One of Britain’s most beloved artists, John Constable made a name for himself painting striking images of nature, largely absent of human presence. “Trees at Hampstead” is a compelling work, filled with motion and energy.
5. “The Great Bed of Ware” by Hans Vredeman de Vries
A masterful 16th century bed complete with carved oak beams, a cloth canopy, and even a painted headboard, the Great Bed of Ware is thought to have been created as a curiosity. The elaborate piece is one of the more fascinating items in the museum’s extensive furniture collection.
6. Sack Back Gown
The Victoria & Albert Museum is justifiably famous for its centuries-spanning fashion collection, and this mid-18th century dress is an exquisite example of the Rococo style. Constructed of painted silk and elaborate stitching, it’s a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship.
7. Bridal Crown
From the V&A’s glittering jewellery wing, the Bridal Crown stands outs as one of the more extraordinary pieces. Dating from the late 18th/early 19th century, the gilded silver piece would have been worn by a bride in Sweden.
8. Tipoo’s Tiger
Hailing from Mysore, India, Tipoo’s Tiger is a life-sized carved wooden sculpture that depicts a fearsome tiger attacking a man. Dating to roughly 1793, the piece, which was made for the Tipoo Sultan, is also a semi-automaton with a functioning organ.
9. Unicorn Tapestry
Woven in Flanders around 1500, this tapestry features a unicorn against a millefleurs backdrop. The detailed work is thought to be a fragment of an even larger piece.
10. “Sword” by James Morisset and James Shrapnell
We always get a bit of a thrill looking at the V&A’s captivating sword collection, and this piece proves that weapons could be beautiful as well as effective. Sporting an incredible enamelled red and gold handle with portraits and a coat of arms, the sword looks too beautiful to wield.
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