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Design for a decorative tile representing Helen of Troy

  • Object:

    Design (visual work)

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    1868 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Poynter, Edward John (Sir), born 1836 - died 1919 (designer)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case NN, shelf 3

Physical description

Pencil and watercolour, blue and white roundel design for tiles. The mythological queen, Helen of Troy, is depicted standing in a loggia or similar setting furnished with a daybed and thin curtain. She clutches at a cloak or large sheet which appears to billow around her in the wind. Resting one hand on the loggia sill and facing to the right, she gazes out to see armed soldiers gathering beyond. Two ships float on the sea which lies behind them, and a landmass is silhouetted on the horizon. A blue border encloses the composition. Signed with artist's monogram and dated.

Place of Origin

London (probably, designed)


1868 (designed)


Poynter, Edward John (Sir), born 1836 - died 1919 (designer)

Marks and inscriptions

Signed with artist's (Poynter's) monogram within the date 1868: '18EJP68'


Diameter: 19.7 cm

Object history note

Edward John Poynter was invited to tender for the decoration of the Grill Room in November 1865. He signed many of his dado tile designs for the Grill Room - including this one - with his monogram and the date 1868. Judging from the Seventeenth Report of the Science and Art Department, the Grill Room's dado tiles were all installed by the end of 1869 at the latest.

Descriptive line

Dado tile design by E. J. Poynter for the Grill Room, South Kensington Museum: 1 of 11 classical female figure subjects (Helen). 1868.

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

Seventeenth Report of the Science and Art Department. London: printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1870
p. 455
pp. 139-141; figs. 153-156; pls. XXVII-XXIX
Physick, John. The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of Its Building. London: The Victoria & Albert Museum, 1982
Sheppard, F. H. W. (general ed.). Survey of London, vol. XXXVIII: The Museums Area of South Kensington and Westminster. London: Athlone Press, University of London, 1975
p. 111 and pl. 15


Watercolour; Pencil



Subjects depicted

Queen (person); Wall tile; Mythology


History of the V&A; Ceramics; Delftware; Designs; Interiors; National Art Training School; Tiles; Myths & Legends


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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