Diplomatic gifts exchanged between the Tudor and Stuart courts and their counterpart in Muscovy (as Russia was then known) are the focus of this exhibition.  We do see some such gifts including magnificent silverware, but most of the 150 objects on display reveal the pomp and chivalry at the heart of the Tudor and Stuart courts.
You are welcomed to the collection by a series of magnificent man-sized heraldic beasts, known as the Dacre Beasts. The first of these is a dolphin, plainly carved by a man who had never seen a dolphin in his life, and along with his cohorts a ram, a bull and a griffin stood in the great hall of Naworth Castle, seat of the Dacre family for 400 years. All who entered the hall would be left in no doubt about the power and wealth of the family.

Treasures of the Royal Courts

The Dacre Bull © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Following through on the heraldry and chivalry theme next we encounter several suits of armour accompanied by a rather wonderful book full of armour designs. You can just imagine the a Tudor knight sitting down and selecting his designs much as a modern day knight would go to his tailor in Saville Row.

Trssures of the Royal Courts

Design for Sir Henry Lee from the Almain Armourers Album
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Next up are an amazing selection of miniatures and fabulous jewels. Some are so intricate that with the naked eye one looks like an amazing ship wrought in gold wire and pearls, studied under a magnifying glass it becomes clear that the ship is crewed by tiny beautifully detailed golden sailors. The level of skill required to such a thing, even today would be mind boggling.

The exhibition might not deliver what its strap line promises but it fabulous all the same, well worth a jaunt to SW7.

If you visit the special exhibitions V&A often then a museum membership would offer good value, check out my London Museum Memberships post.


1 Comment

  1. July 8, 2013 / 5:31 pm

    That sounds really interesting. I love all things Tudor ……

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