When object images are available (studio quality photography of fragile objects is a complex process, so not all objects will have images yet), the results from a query will provide you with the reelvant image identifiers and/or URLs referring to an object image(s). The benefit of providing the identifiers rather than a fixed URL is that you can than construct your own URL, following the IIIF Image API standard, allowing you to make custom image requests (for particular sizes, rotation, format, etc) depending on your usage.

For convenience, we provide in search results a URL pointing directly to an image of a fixed size (a thumbnail image), but you can also use this URL as a starting point for a request for another image size.

Working through an example object, by requesting an image of the Great Bed of Ware

import requests
import json

req = requests.get(" Ware&page_size=50")
response = req.json()
print(json.dumps(response['records'][0], indent=2))
  "systemNumber": "O9138",
  "accessionNumber": "W.47:1 to 28-1931",
  "objectType": "Bed",
  "_currentLocation": {
    "id": "THES49240",
    "displayName": "British Galleries, Room 57",
    "type": "Display",
    "site": "VA",
    "onDisplay": true
  "_primaryTitle": "Great Bed of Ware",
  "_primaryMaker": {
    "name": "Vredeman de Vries, Hans",
    "association": "designer"
  "_primaryImageId": "2006AL3614",
  "_primaryDate": "1590-1600",
  "_primaryPlace": "Ware",
  "_warningTypes": [],
  "_images": {
    "_primary_thumbnail": "!100,100/0/default.jpg",
    "_iiif_image_base_url": "",
    "_iiif_presentation_url": ""

The ‘_primaryImageId’ field provides the identifer you need to construct the IIIF URL. The images field in the response contains three fields:

  • _primary_thumbnail provides a direct link to a thumbnail (upto 100 pixels on the longest side) of the primary image for this object

  • _iiif_image_base_url provides the base path for a IIIF Image API request

  • _iiif_presentation_url provides a direct link to the IIIF Presentation API manifest

The thumbnail URL returns a JPEG image that will never be larger than 100 pixels width and height. The exact dimensions will vary depending on the original physical objects’ dimensions (for example, a scroll read horizontally will likely be returned as 100 pixels in width and less than 100 pixels in height, a square painting will likely be 100 pixels in both width and height)

The other URLs can be used as documented in IIIF

Image sizes

Object images are made available at upto two different sizes:

* 768 pixels on the longest length
* 2500 pixels on the longest length

depending on the object. You can find the size by querying the info.json - for example - see IIIF Image API

Image usage

V&A images are made available under the terms and conditions as set out here in particular section 9.