Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Architectural model - Isaiah


  • Object:

    Architectural model

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1862 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and gilt canvas on plaster

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The painting was designed in 1862 by Alfred Stevens for the mosaic decoration of the spandrels between the dome arches of St. Paul's Cathedral.
The mosaid was executed by Salviati and was unveiled in 1864. Armstrong, a contemporary critic commented that although the space was similar to the Sistine Chapel and that comparisions with Michelangelo were apparent, 'It is obvious...that far from being a servile imitation of the great Florentine, his Isaiah is a bold attempt to rival him on his own ground.'

A sculptor, designer and painter, Alfred Stevens (1817/18-1875) rejected contemporary distinctions between fine art and design. From 1850 to 1857 he was chief designer to Hoole & Co., Sheffield, where he produced award-winning designs for metalwork, majolica, terracotta ornaments and chimney-pieces. Perhaps his two greatest works were the decorations for the dining-room at Dorchester House, London (about 1856), for which he made countless drawings inspired by the Italian High Renaissance style, in particular the work of Michelangelo and the monument to the Duke of Wellington for St Paul's Cathedral, London, which was completed after his death. The two allegorical groups from this monument made a lasting impact on the New Sculpture movement.
The influence of the Italian Renaissance is evident in much of Steven's work, and is perhaps best reflected in the Wellington monument. Although Stevens came equal fifth in the competition for the Wellington monument, the winner being the Scots sculptor William Calder Marshall (1813-1894), he was eventually given the commission as his design was felt to be more in keeping with the interior of St Paul's.

Salviati (1816 - ca. 1890) was a lawyer from Vicenza, who became an entrepreneur in glass manufacture, opening his first glass factory and shop in Venice in 1859. In the early years he concentrated mainly on mosaic and glass tiles and in 1866 founded the Venice & Murano Glass & Mosaic Co Ltd. (as Salviati & C) with English capital and the backing of the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard and the antiquarian Sir William Drake.

Physical description

Plaster model of a spandrel, with a painting in oil colours and gold, on canvas, representing the prophet Isaiah.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1862 (made)


Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Painted and gilt canvas on plaster


Height: 53 cm

Object history note

Given by F.C Penrose, Esq. M.A. F.R.S., Surveyor to the Fabrick of St. Paul's, The Chapter House, St Paul's Churchyard, in 1897, together with Mus. nos. 1956-1897 and 1957-1897. In July 1897 Penrose wrote that he was leaving his position imminently and was anxious to find a suitable home for these models.

Descriptive line

Architectural model, painted and gilt canvas on plaster, Prophet Isaiah, by Alfred Stevens, England, 1862

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

List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1897. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office. Wyman and Sons, 1901, p. 273
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470-2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, p. 389, cat. no. 616


Plaster; Canvas


Painted; Gilt


Sculpture; Christianity; Religion; Architectural fittings


Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.