Victoria and Albert Museum

Standing outside the Aston Webb façade of the V&A waiting for the museum to open, I was struck by the extent to which the sculpture on the façade of a highly international museum of design consists of a pantheon of British artists, all painters:- Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney and Cosway to the left of the main entrance and Turner, Constable, Watts, Leighton and Millais on the right. They were put out at almost exactly the moment that the Tate Gallery was established as the National Gallery of British Art. Was it the V&A’s bid for supremacy in the field ?

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