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Art Students, South Kensington

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1861 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Claxton, Florence (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and watercolour

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 9

This caricature shows a lively scene of art students copying pictures in the original paintings galleries of the South Kensington Museum. The artist, Florence Claxton, was a popular caricaturist who worked for many of the leading illustrated journals of her day. This drawing was published as a wood engraving in 'The Queen', an upmarket ladies newspaper, in 1861. It is a unique image of the galleries 'in action' at an early date.

The piece also parodies contemporary debate over women's art practice. Several stereotypes of the female artist appear. In the background is the strong-minded woman who has been de-feminised by her professional ambition (hers is the largest easel). To the right, two dilettantes wander flirtatiously about the gallery distracting the male students. An article in the 'The Athenaeum' in 1860 had commented that "If anyone will visit the South Kensington Museum on what is called a "Students' day" he will find the galleries…crowded with men and women, when not engaged in flirting, copying the pictures of that collection" .

Physical description

Caricature in pen and watercolour showing art students copying pictures in the original paintings galleries of the South Kensington Museum.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1861 (made)


Claxton, Florence (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and watercolour

Marks and inscriptions

F. Claxton
Signed by artist in ink, bottom left of image


Height: 15.5 cm, Width: 23.3 cm

Descriptive line

Pen and watercolour caricature of art students in the original V&A paintings galleries, by Florence Claxton, Great Britain, 1861

Labels and date

These animated art students are copying works in the original Paintings galleries at this museum (now Rooms 81-93). Despite the lofty cultural and educational purposes of the space, some of the students are distracted by the presence of the young women. The satire also includes a variety of stereotypes of the female artist. []

Subjects depicted

Caricature; Students; Easel painting (image-making)


Caricatures & Cartoons; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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