NEWS: Queen Victoria’s Saphire and Diamond Cornet to be Displayed at the V&A

The coronet will be one of eighty pieces joining the jewellery display  at the museum from the 11th April. 

Coronet and case Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet, designed by Prince Albert, made by Joseph Kitching, London, 1840-2, and case, ca. 2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

From the 11th April, visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum will get a chance to see Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet on permanent display as the centrepiece of its William and Judith
Bollinger Gallery.

The coronet was purchased by the V&A in 2017 through the generosity of William & Judith, and Douglas and James Bollinger as a gift to the
Nation and the Commonwealth. As one of Queen Victoria’s most important jewels, it was designed for her by Prince Albert in 1840 – the royal couple’s wedding year – and made by Joseph Kitching, partner at Kitching and Abud.

Currently closed for a three month refurbishment, the coronet will be one of 80 new pieces to join the display when the gallery reopens. Other pieces on display in the newly refurbished gallery will include a collection of 49 Art Deco vanity cases as a loan and promised gift from Kashmira Bulsara in memory of her brother, Freddie Mercury. The pieces took inspiration from Modernism as well as Persia, Ancient Egypt, China and Japan,
and are made in richly coloured hardstones, enamel and lacquer by, or for, Cartier, Lacloche, Van Cleef & Arpels and Charlton.

Other additions on display from April will include thirty pieces ranging from the late 19th century to the present, comprising works by contemporary makers Ute Decker and Charlotte de Syllas
working in Britain, Flóra Vági in Hungary, and Annamaria Zanella in Italy, among others. Pieces will include Christopher Thompson Royds’ Natura Morta necklace with poppies of gold, enamel and diamonds, Gijs Bakker’s Porsche bracelet in polyester, and a gold pendant of Paddington Bear by Cartier, created in 1975.

The gallery’s refurbishment includes updates to the infrastructure and display, including a specially commissioned cylindrical showcase at the heart of the gallery for Queen Victoria’s coronet. Interactives will also be enhanced. The architects for the refurbishment are Eva Jiricna and Georgina Papathanasiou (Atelier A&D), who led the creation of the
gallery ten years ago.

Talking about the news, senior curator Richard Edgcumbe said: “Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet is one of the great jewels of her reign. Designed by Prince Albert, it is an iconic symbol of their love, worn by Victoria as young queen and as widow. We are entirely indebted to William and Judith Bollinger and their sons for the gift of this masterpiece of the jeweller’s art, which is so intimately associated with Victoria and Albert that it will become part of the identity of the V&A. Together with an array of eighty new acquisitions and loans made possible by the generosity of many supporters, the display of the coronet inaugurates the next phase in the life of a much loved gallery.”

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