May 24, 2019

The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery at V&A Museum

Coronet and case Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet, designed by Prince Albert, made by Joseph Kitching, London.

April 11th 2019 shall be thus far for the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) to reopen the doors of its jewellery gallery rebranded as “The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery” since 2008.

More than 80 new items, including Queen Victoria’s sapphire coronet shall be on display. 

Amongst the museum’s most popular galleries, more than 4,2 million people have visited the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery’s treasure trove of historic and contemporary jewels. In itself the gallery charts the history of jewellery from Ancient Greece through to the present, featuring pieces once worn by a host of powerful women including Queen Elizabeth ICatherine the Great or Beyoncé, who gifted herGlenn Spiro Papillon ring to the museum last year.

Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles. Photography by Speaight, Ltd., London. About 1922 – Image by V&A Museum

The unveiling of the coronet, one of Victoria’s most important jewels, shall kick off a year of bicentenary celebrations by the museum to mark the 200th bicentennial of Queen Victoria and Prince Consort Albert, the royal couple from whom it takes its name. Prince Albert designed the piece for Victoria in 1840, the year of their marriage.

Created by her jeweller Joseph Kitching, the young queen wore the newly completed coronet in a 1842 portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The latter painting subsequently became the image of Victoria throughout the world through replicas and engravings. This coronet eventually passed out of the royal family and into private hands during the 20th century. It was saved from export in 2017 when the V&A acquired it through the generosity of benefactors William and Judith Bollinger as well as their their sons.

Brooch Brooch, gold and iron, designed and made by Annamaria Zanella, Italy, 1997 Annamaria Zanella (1966-) Italy 1997

The newly refurbished gallery, which is closed until it reopens on 11 April, marks the first time it will go on permanent public display.

The space will also now benefit from an outstanding collection of 49 Art Deco vanity cases, a loan and promised gift from Kashmira Bulsara, sister to the late singerFreddy Mercury. Most of the cases are intricate oeuvres created by CartierLaclocheand Van Cleef & Arpels, in gold and platinum setting together a riot of coloured fine stones and enamels. 

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