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Column - Trajan's column

Trajan's column

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Rome (the original , made)
    Paris (the reproduction , cast)

  • Date:

    113 (made)
    ca. 1864 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a plaster cast of the original marble column, 'Trajan's Column', made in the 19th century, around 1864. The massive cast is a tremendous feat of both engineering and casting. Displayed in the Architectural Courts from the time of their opening in 1873, it provided the opportunity for students (and others not able to travel to Rome) to see this iconic monument of the classical world. The cast of the column is made up of sections of plaster reliefs that are attached to an inner chimney built of brick. Each section was individually numbered so that the column could easily be assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Trajan's column was erected to commemorate the successful campaigns of the Emperor against the Dacians of the Danube frontier in AD 101-2 and 105-6. It stood at the focal point of the Emperor's Forum in Rome and takes the form of a hollow shaft built of Parian marble, 3.83 meters in diameter a the base and rising to a height of 38 meters including the square plinth upon which it stands and the capital that surmounts it. The continuous frieze of low relief depicting the history of Trajan's campaigns winds up and round the column for a total length of over 200 meters, and shows 2500 figures. In antiquity, placed as it was between the two libraries of the Forum, the reliefs could be studied at close quarters up to a certain height, and the whole sculpted surface was picked out in colour and enriched with metal accessories. Originally the column was topped by a colossal bronze statue of Trajan; this was replaced at the end of the 16th century by the present bronze of Saint Peter, made by Bastiano Torrigiano.

Place of Origin

Rome (the original , made)
Paris (the reproduction , cast)


113 (made)
ca. 1864 (cast)



Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast


Height: 523.5 cm, Diameter: 422.5 cm base

Object history note

Purchased from M. Oudry in 1864 for £301 15s 2d

Descriptive line

Column, plaster cast, reproduction of Trajan's Column, cast by Monsieur Oudry, Paris, ca. 1864, after the original erected AD 113 in Rome

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Trusted, Majorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007, pp. 162-163, pl. 312



Subjects depicted

Memorial columns; Figures; Arms; Armour


Sculpture; Archaeology; Architecture


Sculpture Collection

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