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Photograph - South Kensington Museum - Educational Collections.  Gallery containing examples of materials for iInstruction in Art
  • South Kensington Museum - Educational Collections. Gallery containing examples of materials for iInstruction in Art
    Cowper, Isabel Agnes, born 1826 - died 1911
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South Kensington Museum - Educational Collections. Gallery containing examples of materials for iInstruction in Art

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    South Kensington Museum (photographed)

  • Date:

    1868-1869 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cowper, Isabel Agnes, born 1826 - died 1911 (photographer)
    Department of Science and Art of the Committee of Council on Education (commissioned by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print

  • Museum number:

    67559

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 601, box D

Photographs and photographers were present from the very beginning of the V&A's history and the Museum has an extensive collection of images from the 1850s through to the present which documents the construction and development of the V&A and the South Kensington site.

Originally collected by the National Art Library as part of a programme to record works of art, architecture and design in the interest of public education, these topographic and architectural views were valued as records and as source material for students of architecture and design. As well as being crucial records of the history of the V&A, and an important element within the National Art Library's visual encyclopaedia, these photographs are also significant artefacts in the history of the art of photography.

Isabel Cowper was the sister of the South Kensington Museum's first official photographer, Charles Thurston Thompson (1816-1868) and of the Superintendent of the Museum, Richard A. Thompson. Little is known about Cowper, but in her letter of resignation in 1891, she refers to herself as the Museum's 'Official Photographer', having taken up the position after the death of her brother. As such, she is an important part of the early history of V&A and a seminal figure behind the Museum’s early uptake of photography to document the arts.

Physical description

A mounted albumen print of an exhibition space with display cases and framed prints covering the walls (some of the human muscular system and some female nudes). There are globes in the foreground and a sign over a door in the background: 'EDUCATIONAL COLLECTIONS'. On the mount is a descriptive label.

Place of Origin

South Kensington Museum (photographed)

Date

1868-1869 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Cowper, Isabel Agnes, born 1826 - died 1911 (photographer)
Department of Science and Art of the Committee of Council on Education (commissioned by)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print

Marks and inscriptions

South Kensington Museum - Educational Collection. / Gallery containing examples of materials for instruction in Art. No.9063
Label under image.

London: Victoria and Albert Museum. / Educational Collections
Inscribed bottom left.

Dimensions

Height: 154 mm image, Width: 127 mm image, Height: 331 mm card, Width: 238 mm card

Descriptive line

Photograph by Isabel Cowper, South Kensington Museum (the 'Brompton Boilers'), Educational Museum, albumen print, 1868-69

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Julius Bryant, ed. Art and Design for All. The Victoria and Albert Museum London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN: 9781851776665.

Labels and date

Gallery 100 ‘A History of Photography’, 2014-2015, label text:

Isabel Agnes Cowper (1826?–1911)
The South Kensington Museum’s Educational Collection
About 1870

The 1857 Museum included an Educational Collection, photographed here by Cowper. Materials used for ‘instruction in art’ reflect the idea that art could be taught as a practical discipline through the observation of laws and principles. The Museum also held scientific collections and educational material used in the instruction of science. In 1899, the collections were divided into the ‘Art Museum’ (the V&A) and what is now the Science Museum.

Albumen prints
Museum nos. 67:559, 67:060
[06 03 2014]

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Albumen process

Subjects depicted

Globes; Exhibit cases; Galleries (display spaces); Museums

Categories

Photographs; History of the V&A; Architecture

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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