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Bayeux Tapestry

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Date:

    1873 (Photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cundall & Co. (Photographers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woodburytype

  • Museum number:

    E.573:25-2005

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 514, case EXP []

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered strip of linen over 65 metres long telling the story of the events starting in 1064 that led up to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Believed to date from the 11th century, it is made up of eight conjoined sections of different lengths and displays over 70 scenes, with decorative borders running along the top and bottom. The tapestry has been on permanent display in Bayeux, Normandy, since 1842.

In 1873, Joseph Cundall and his assistants made photographs of the tapestry for the Department of Science and Art, a British government body. These would be published by the Arundel Society in the same year. It took over two months and over 180 glass plates to produce the photographs. The prints are the same size as the tapestry and are hand-coloured. Two of the copies were acquired by the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A); one divided into 25 separate sections of 2.5 metres and the other on a 65 metre roll. The latter was the model for a replica of the tapestry made in 1885 by a team of English women embroiderers under the direction of Elizabeth Wardle, now on display in the Museum of Reading.

Physical description

Hand-coloured photograph of the Bayeux tapestry in 25 parts.

Date

1873 (Photographed)

Artist/maker

Cundall & Co. (Photographers)

Materials and Techniques

Woodburytype

Dimensions

Height: 27 cm

Object history note

In 1873 Joseph Cundall made photographs of the Bayeux Tapestry using the autotype (Woodburytype) process, for the Department of Science and Art to be issued through the Arundel Society, an organisation specialising in the reproduction of medieval art. The photographs were offered for sale at the expensive price of £216 each. The prints are actual size and hand coloured by students from the School of Art, London (now the Royal College of Art). The tapestry is 214 feet long, by about 20 inches high and the photograph corresponds. It required 180 glass plates (20x15 inches) and is the largest photographic panorama made in the nineteenth century.

The V&A has two copies. This one, E.573:1 to 25-2005, exists in 25 separate rolls. The other copy, 201-1874, is fixed to a continuous roll backed onto linen and was at one time displayed in room 108 on a rolling mechanism which broke and was deemed too expensive to replace.

Descriptive line

Photograph of the Bayeux Tapestry by Cundall & Co., 1873

Production Note

Attribution note: Produced for the Department of Science and Art to be issued through the Arundel Society

Categories

Photographs; Textiles; Royalty; Arms & Armour

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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