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Copy of a Relief

Copy of a Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (Copy, made)
    France (Original, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1864 (made)
    1547-1549 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Desachy Monsieur (caster)
    Goujon, Jean (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1882-5

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A, case WE

The original stone reliefs were part of the decoration of a public fountain in Paris. Jean Goujon may have travelled to Italy as a young man, as his style seems to take inspiration from Italian sculpture. The Parisian plaster caster Desachy created some of these casts. The others were bought in 1882 from the Musée du Moulage in Paris to complete the set.

Physical description

Plaster cast of one of nine reliefs, in stone, of water nymphs and putti from the Fontaine des Innocents, Paris.

Place of Origin

Paris (Copy, made)
France (Original, made)

Date

ca. 1864 (made)
1547-1549 (made)

Artist/maker

Desachy Monsieur (caster)
Goujon, Jean (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 229 cm, Width: 61.5 cm

Object history note

Cast of one of nine reliefs created in plaster by Monsieur Desachy in about 1864 and were purchased from the Museé du Moulage, Paris in 1882 (amount unrecorded).. The cast is of one of nine reliefs of water nymphs and putti, which was sculpted by Jean Goujon in France 1547–49. There are in total nine casts of reliefs: 1864-106 to 108 and 1882-4 to 9. Originally placed against a wall, the fountain was moved in 1787 into the Marché des Innocents, and additional reliefs executed by Augustin Pajou (1730-1809). The original panels are now in the Musée du Louvre.

Historical context note

Making plaster copies is a centuries-old tradition that reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century. The V&A's casts are of large-scale architectural and sculptural works as well as small scale, jewelled book covers and ivory plaques, these last known as fictile ivories.

The Museum commissioned casts directly from makers and acquired others in exchange. Oronzio Lelli, of Florence was a key overseas supplier while, in London, Giovanni Franchi and Domenico Brucciani upheld a strong Italian tradition as highly-skilled mould-makers, or formatori.

Some casts are highly accurate depictions of original works, whilst others are more selective, replicating the outer surface of the original work, rather than its whole structure. Like a photograph, they record the moment the cast was taken: alterations, repairs and the wear and tear of age are all reproduced in the copies. The plasters can also be re-worked, so that their appearance differs slightly from the original from which they were taken.

To make a plaster cast, a negative mould has to be taken of the original object. The initial mould could be made from one of several ways. A flexible mould could be made by mixing wax with gutta-percha, a rubbery latex product taken from tropical trees. These two substances formed a mould that had a slightly elastic quality, so that it could easily be removed from the original object. Moulds were also made from gelatine, plaster or clay, and could then be used to create a plaster mould to use for casting.
When mixed with water, plaster can be poured into a prepared mould, allowed to set, and can be removed to produce a finished solid form. The moulds are coated with a separating or paring agent to prevent the newly poured plaster sticking to them. The smooth liquid state and slight expansion while setting allowed the quick drying plaster to infill even the most intricate contours of a mould.
Flatter, smaller objects in low relief usually require only one mould to cast the object. For more complex objects, with a raised surface, the mould would have to be made from a number of sections, known as piece-moulds. These pieces are held together in the so-called mother-mould, in order to create a mould of the whole object. Once the object has been cast from this mother-mould, the piece-moulds can be easily removed one by one, to create a cast of the three-dimensional object.

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of a relief by Monsieur Desachy about 1864 depicting one of nine water nymphs and putti. The original was made by Jean Goujon in c1547-49 Paris, originally part of the Fontaine des Innocents, Paris.

Labels and date

2. Casts of
Jean Goujon (about 1510–65)
Nine Reliefs of Water Nymphs and Putti
1547–49

The original stone reliefs were part of the decoration of a public fountain in Paris. Jean Goujon may have travelled to Italy as a young man, as his style seems to take inspiration from Italian sculpture. The Parisian plaster caster Desachy created some of these casts. The others were bought in 1882 from the Musée du Moulage in Paris to complete the set.

Casts
Monsieur Desachy
About 1864
Painted plaster
Paris, France
Museum nos. Repro.1864-106 to 108 and Repro.1882-4 to 9

Originals
Stone
Originally part of the Fontaine des Innocents, Paris
Musée du Louvre, Paris [04/07/2018]

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Nymphs; Putti

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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