Julius Bryant will deliver The Majolica International Society Lecture on Wednesday, May 3 at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “From Maiolica to Majolica: The Decoration of the Victoria and Albert Museum.”
Julius Bryant is Keeper of Word and Image at the Victoria and Albert Museum where he is responsible for the collections of paintings, prints, drawings, designs, photography, posters, watercolours, the art of the book, the Archive of Art and Design, and the National Art Library. He was previously Chief Curator and Director of Museums and Collections at English Heritage (1990–2005). He has co-curated a series of major exhibitions with Dr. Susan Weber for Bard Graduate Center and the V&A, including: James “Athenian” Stuart, 1713–1788: The Rediscovery of Antiquity (2006–2007); William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (2013–2014); and currently John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London (father of Rudyard Kipling) for the V&A and BGC in 2017. His book on museum architecture and decoration, Designing the V&A 1857–1909, will be published in May 2017 to coincide with this lecture.
From its origins in the 1850s the Victoria and Albert Museum had a major influence on the appreciation of Renaissance maiolica and Victorian majolica, not only through the display of historical collections and contemporary wares but also through the very fabric of its new buildings. Herbert Minton and the museum’s first director Henry Cole first met in 1842; their friendship is reflected both in early loans and purchases and in the elaborate architectural decoration of the principal interiors. This richly-illustrated lecture will reveal how maiolica and majolica became the key materials of the controversial new museum’s challenge to ideas of good taste, as it sought to set new standards of design for Victorian Britain.