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MINING the V&A’s holdings, this time it’s Netherlandish late medieval sculpture from the major Netherlandish centres in the
museum’s collection, including Antwerp, Brussels and Utrecht.

Shown here are the principal categories of sculpture production – the sculptures for church and chapel interiors, altarpieces and small-scale devotional pieces and house altars for private worship.

The V&A’s Netherlandish sculpture collection has its roots in the collecting interests of English antiquarians and landed gentry in the early 19th century, who created a climate of high good taste for the Late Middle Ages with the collections of wood sculpture and furniture formed primarily for the purpose of decorating one’s newly built or renovated interior. Several of this new coterie of collectors were High Church Anglicans buying for private chapels, but sculpture was also acquired by those not of a clerical bent who considered figures of saints just so right in domestic settings. Sort of early decorators’ market and all part of antiquarian collecting in England.