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Cast

Cast

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tassie, James, born 1735 - died 1799 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Coloured pastes, white enamel and sulphur.

  • Museum number:

    748 toC-1870

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a collection of casts from gems by James and WilliamTassie in the late 18th century England. This collection consists of 15,800 impressions in coloured pastes, white enamel and sulphur from gems in the principal collections of Europe. This collection is in four stained wood cabinets with illustrated letter-press.

The practice of making casts of engraved gems, and thus of circulating their images, was common from ancient times, and became widespread among Roman connoisseurs in the eighteenth century. In London from the 1760s onwards, the Scotsman James Tassie (1735–1799), and later his nephew William Tassie, sold casts of engraved gems made from a hard vitreous paste which James has helped to develop and which could be coloured to resemble gemstones, as well as 'enamel' or white glass, and the cheaper sulphur and plaster. Demand was huge, and Tassie built up a collection of moulds taken from hundreds of cabinets all over Europe, from which he made his casts. Eventually the Tassie catalogue encompassed 20,000 items. The sale of casts of gems boomed as they became an essential souvenir of the Grand Tour, and firms set up in business to sell boxes of trays with identifying lists, or casts in boxes disguised as books for the library shelf, but none would rival the comprehensive scope of Tassie.

Physical description

A collection of impressions in coloured pastes, white enamel and sulphur from gems in four stained wood cabinets with illustrated letter-press.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

late 18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Tassie, James, born 1735 - died 1799 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Coloured pastes, white enamel and sulphur.

Dimensions

Height: 50.8 cm, Length: 73.66 cm, Depth: 33.02 cm

Object history note

Bought in 1870.

Descriptive line

Collection of casts from gems, by James Tassie, English, late 18th century

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

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1870, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 66
Trusted, Majorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007, p. 150, pl. 292
Thomson, Duncan. The Letters of James and William Tassie to Alexander Wilson 1778 to 1826. The Walpole Society. 2003, vol. LXV
Scott, J. The Pleasures of Antiquity: British Collectors of Greece and Rome. London, 2003, pp. 111-112

Materials

Enamel; Sulphur; Paste; Wood

Techniques

Casting

Subjects depicted

Intaglios; Gemstones

Categories

Jewellery; Scotland; Gemstones

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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