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Pourpoint and Slashed Silk Waistcoat

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    South Kensington Museum (photographed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1873 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cowper, Isabel Agnes, born 1826 - died 1911 (photographer)
    South Kensington Museum (commissioned by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3H, shelf 6

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 Museum objects including objects on loan.

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 records of Museum objects 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 sepia-coloured photographed of an intricately embrodered waistcoat. A printed label has been attached to the bottom centre of the mount.

Place of Origin

South Kensington Museum (photographed)


ca. 1873 (photographed)


Cowper, Isabel Agnes, born 1826 - died 1911 (photographer)
South Kensington Museum (commissioned by)

Materials and Techniques

albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

'95A. POURPOINT and SLASHED SILK WAISCOAT [sic], formerly / belonging to John Carter, twice bailiff of Yarmouth, the / intimate friend of Oliver Cromwell. In his house at Yar- / mouth, a meeting was held, at which Cromwell decided / the death of Charles I. Lent by the Earl of Orford.'
printed label attached to bottom centre of mount


Height: 58.8 cm mount, Width: 38 cm mount

Descriptive line

Photograph by Isabel Agnes Cowper, 'Pourpoint and Slashed Silk Waistcoat', albumen print from a glass plate negative, ca. 1873



Subjects depicted



Photographs; Embroidery; Clothing


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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