Pairing Up, Part 2: Works in Progress

In the first of our three part series on “pairing up” we looked at original artworks found within the Art & Design folios and their matching transfer pulls located elsewhere in the collection – a snapshot of those designs as they moved through the production process. For our second post we wanted to explore this theme a little further, highlighting more of the related items which help us to trace that journey. This time we won’t even have to leave the Art & Design folios, though that does mean no virtual trips to the Devonshire coast – sorry!

SD 1705/MS1688 contains a number of drawings and mounted tracings of cupids by W.S. Coleman, with one particular subject – a woman kneeling as she arranges flowers in a vase – featured in both sets. Even at a glance it was clear that these two items were very closely related but after digitally aligning and overlaying the two pieces it’s obvious that the initial sketch formed the basis for the more detailed tracing. As well as viewing the two illustrations individually in our record view you can also use the interactive frame below to compare them in their digitally overlaid state – move the vertical bar left or right to uncover the similarities and differences between the drawings.

We found another artwork-and-tracing pair in SD 1705/MS1701, in this instance showing how tracings are used to simplify down to the artwork’s outlines rather than refine up from an initial sketch. As you’d expect in such a situation, digitally aligning and overlaying these two pieces was a particularly easy process! You can see a larger crop of this as the feature image for this post and find the individual versions in our record view.

Spread across two different folios – SD 1705/MS1701 and SD 1705/MS1706 – our final example relied once again on our good memories to spot the connection. Although the initial drawing and final, coloured artwork look almost identical there are actually enough subtle differences in the shape and content to prevent us from being able to digitally align them accurately. These inconsistencies aside it’s another great example of how, even within the confines of the Art & Design folios, the journey to production has its own series of steps.