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Porte de la Vierge

  • Object:

    Copy of Arcading

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (Copy, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850-1900 (made)
    ca. 1210-1220 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Architectural Association

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1916-3164

  • Gallery location:

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

The original arcading is part of the Porte de la Vièrge (Door of Light) in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The small panel to the far left under the arches is a representation of Terra (the Earth). Next is the beheading of John the Baptist, then the stoning of St Stephen, a scene from the life of St Geneviève and finally the figure of Pope Leo III. The cast was made in France and given to this Museum by the Architectural Association in 1916.

Physical description

Plaster cast of arcading from the Porte de la Vièrge that contains small reliefs under each arch representing (from the left), Terra, the Beheading of John the Baptist, the Stoning of St Stephen, a scene concerning St Genevieve, and the figure of Pope Leo III.

Place of Origin

Paris (Copy, made)

Date

ca. 1850-1900 (made)
ca. 1210-1220 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 272 cm, Width: 358.5 cm

Object history note

Cast of arcading from the Porte de la Vièrge created in plaster in Paris about 1850-1900 and given by the Architectural Association in 1916. The cast is of arches under which are small panels with reliefs. The original was by an unknown artist in stone and made in about 1210-20.

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 arcading from the Porte de la Vièrge that contains a small relief under each arch. The original was made by an unknown artist in about 1210-20.

Labels and date

2. Cast of
Unknown artist
Arcading
About 1210–20

The original arcading is part of the Porte de la Vièrge (Door of Light) in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The small panel to the far left under the arches is a representation of Terra (the Earth). Next is the beheading of John the Baptist, then the stoning of St Stephen, a scene from the life of St Geneviève and finally the figure of Pope Leo III. The cast was made in France and given to this Museum by the Architectural Association in 1916.

Cast
About 1850–1900
Painted plaster
Paris, France
Given by the Architectural Association in 1916
Museum no. Repro.A.1916-3164

Original
Stone
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris [04/07/2018]
The small panels in relief within the arcading represent (from the left), Terra (the Earth), the Beheading of John the Baptist, the Stoning of St Stephen, a scene from the life of St Geneviève, and Pope Leo III. The cast is taken from the Porte de la Vière (portal of light) in the great gothic cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. They are from a collection of architectural plaster casts given to the Museum by the Architectural Association in 1916. French gothic architecture was an inspiration to many British architects of the 19th century.

Holly Trusted []

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Arcading

Categories

Sculpture; Architecture; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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