I’ve been visiting the V&A museum in South Kensington, London for well over 50 years and each time I visit, I discover something new. Often it can be a quite a small item – a tiny photograph, a Japanese netsuke, an historic letter or trinket in a display case. But then there’s the BIG stuff – the copy of Michelangelo’s David in the Cast Courts, the Great Bed of Ware, or the two halves of Trajan’s column – which, incidentally, you can now go inside and marvel at how it was cast and constructed.
On most visits I head straight past across the first corridor, through the V&A shop and down the stairs to the long corridor which runs the entire width of the building. Turn left for the Morris Room for afternoon tea, the lift to the Members’ Room, the Mary Quant exhibition (if it’s still running) and the fashion galleries. Turn right for where was the Pink Floyd exhibition (long since gone), the Cast Courts, or up the stairs for the Theatre & Performance rooms and the late-20th century items – the Print Room, contemporary furniture, the modern gadgetry, Linda McCartney’s photo archive and even some album covers.
But it’s that corridor – the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries – leading to these courts and galleries which always makes me pause, dawdle a while and then stop for a look at the umpteen items of statuary – the statuary that most of us hurry past on our way to see the ‘other stuff’. There’s such a wide variety of works here covering several centuries, some by familiar artists and sculptors and many unknowns – both artist and subject. And, as with all my visits to the V&A, there’s always something new to discover.
So, I was delighted to receive my weekly email from the V&A today with the following video of V&A curator Alicia Robinson talking about 23 works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) which can be found in this corridor. Following an exhibition in London in early 1914, war then broke out in Europe and Rodin was faced with the problem of how to get his works back to France. But instead, in November 1914, he gave all 23 works to the V&A museum as a token of his love for England and for the friendship that existed between the two nations of Britain and France. Here Alicia talks about six of these works.
Auguste Rodin’s 23 works are part of the permanent collection and can be viewed at any time.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is currently open from Thursday-Sunday from 11.00am to 7.00pm. Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL