Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D , Case DR, Shelf 129

Design for mosaic pavement in the V&A

Design
ca.1868-1873 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Closely corresponding with the work as executed, this design by Francis Moody is for the mosaic floor in the corridor between the Architectural Courts (now the Cast Courts, Rooms 46a-b), an area of the Victoria and Albert Museum that was begun in 1870 and opened in 1873. Aside from variations in the geometric borders, the design essentially extends the mosaic pattern that Moody had devised for the landing of the West or Ceramic Staircase (now Staircase I), from the masks to the sea creatures to the squared composition. However, whilst the latter was made by the firm of Minton, Hollins, the mosaic in the corridor between the Architectural Courts was the work of female convicts in Woking prison. Approved by the Home Secretary and nicknamed ‘Opus Criminale’, this unusual method had been suggested in 1869 by Captain Du Cane, a prison official who that year became surveyor-general of prisons, chairman of the convict prison directors and inspector-general of military prisons. The women, following the supplied designs, were responsible for making up mosaic panels for floors in a number of parts of the Museum. These included the cloister beneath the Sheepshanks Gallery (now the Museum bookshop), the Science Schools (now the Henry Cole Wing), and part of Bethnal Green Museum (now the V&A Museum of Childhood).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pencil with watercolour on paper, edged on the reverse with linen
Brief Description
Design for Victoria and Albert Museum by Francis Moody, mosaic pavement for Architectural Courts (now Cast Courts), late 1860s-early 1870s
Physical Description
Pencil drawing with watercolour on paper, edged on the reverse with linen. This design for a mosaic floor for the Architectural Courts (now the Cast Courts, Rooms 46a-b) shows a row of three square panels, framed both individually and collectively by geometric borders. The central panel contains small circular motif set within a square, whilst the top and bottom panels contain a circle framed by curved diamond, set within a larger circle; the top panel is finished with red and grey watercolour, and features a head in the central roundel. To either side and at one end of the row, narrow panels are marked lightly in pencil. Some annotations; scale bar.
Dimensions
  • Height of paper height: 101.5cm
  • Width of paper width: 66cm
Place Depicted
Summary
Closely corresponding with the work as executed, this design by Francis Moody is for the mosaic floor in the corridor between the Architectural Courts (now the Cast Courts, Rooms 46a-b), an area of the Victoria and Albert Museum that was begun in 1870 and opened in 1873. Aside from variations in the geometric borders, the design essentially extends the mosaic pattern that Moody had devised for the landing of the West or Ceramic Staircase (now Staircase I), from the masks to the sea creatures to the squared composition. However, whilst the latter was made by the firm of Minton, Hollins, the mosaic in the corridor between the Architectural Courts was the work of female convicts in Woking prison. Approved by the Home Secretary and nicknamed ‘Opus Criminale’, this unusual method had been suggested in 1869 by Captain Du Cane, a prison official who that year became surveyor-general of prisons, chairman of the convict prison directors and inspector-general of military prisons. The women, following the supplied designs, were responsible for making up mosaic panels for floors in a number of parts of the Museum. These included the cloister beneath the Sheepshanks Gallery (now the Museum bookshop), the Science Schools (now the Henry Cole Wing), and part of Bethnal Green Museum (now the V&A Museum of Childhood).
Bibliographic References
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1927, London: Board of Education, 1928.
  • Physick, John. The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of Its Building. London: The Victoria & Albert Museum, 1982.
Collection
Accession Number
E.1032-1927

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 30, 2009
Record URL