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Relief - Angel in a foliate roundel
  • Angel in a foliate roundel
    Cottingham, Lewis Nockalls, born 1787 - died 1847
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Angel in a foliate roundel

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    England (cast)

  • Date:

    mid-13th century (made)
    before 1850 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cottingham, Lewis Nockalls, born 1787 - died 1847 (cast-maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1916-232

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This relief of an angel in a foliate roundel within a lobed square is one of twenty-four from the north transept doorway of Westminster Abbey. Within the transept, the reliefs come from the soffits of the lancet windows, and are grouped four to each window. The Victoria and Albert Museum has plaster cast copies of eighteen of these reliefs.

Physical description

Half-length figure of an angel holding a scroll carved in high relief within a sunken circular compartment bordered by leaves. His wings are carved with a feather pattern.

Place of Origin

England (made)
England (cast)

Date

mid-13th century (made)
before 1850 (cast)

Artist/maker

Cottingham, Lewis Nockalls, born 1787 - died 1847 (cast-maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 46 cm approximately, Width: 58 cm approximately, Weight: 21.1 kg

Object history note

This relief of an angel in a foliate roundel within a lobed square is one of twenty four from the north transept doorway of Westminster Abbey. Within the transept, the reliefs come from the soffits of the lancet windows, and are grouped four to each window. The Victoria and Albert Museum has plaster cast copies of eighteen of these reliefs. The northern transept of Westminster Abbey was part of a major construction project commissioned by King Henry III from 1245 to 1259. Henry established Westminster as the official Coronation church of the English monarchs, and also a family and dynastic mausoleum, because it contained the remains of Edward the Confessor. In these years, Westminster Abbey became 'the most important centre of sculptural activity in England' (Williamson, 1995, p. 200). Henry spent much of his annual income on new architectural decorations for the Abbey while attempting to compete with the building projects of his brother-in-law Louis IX, King of France.

The placement of angels in sculptural decoration signifies the Abbey's role as a 'heavenly space' (Williamson, 1995, p. 201), and as a motif they reappear frequently not only within the Abbey but also in other sculptural programmes completed in England later in the 13th century.

Historical context note

These casts of angels were taken by Lewis Nockalls Cottingham (1787-1847), the British architect, designer, writer and collector. Cottingham collected Gothic architectural fragments and drawings of architectural ornaments from British cathedrals, including Winchester, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Westminster. In 1851 his collection was sold at auction by Messrs. Foster and Son. Henry Shaw, who catalogued Cottingham's collection, wrote in his preface, 'We would appeal to those connected with education in our chief manufacturing towns…to take advantage of the sale by auction in lots of this extensive collection, and imitate their continental brethren by establishing museums of decorative art, which must be reproductive in a manner out of all proportion with their cost, by improving the skills, and consequently the value of the labour of those they employ' (1850, p. vi). Before the sale, it had been hoped that the government would be willing to purchase Cottingham's collection and incorporate it with that of the Government Schools of Design.

It seems that these particular casts went unsold, and that instead they were given to the Royal Architectural Museum of the Architectural Association, which later donated its collection to the V&A after their museum closed in 1916. This museum had been founded in 1851 by a group of architectural professionals lead by George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), and by the 1870s included over 4500 casts from English church portals, tombs, and windows.

The original reliefs were in poor condition, and Cottingham's casts restored some of the missing elements, and to some extent altered the original 13th century style (Cave and Tanner, 1933, p. 64).

Descriptive line

Half-length figure of an angel from the soffits of the windows of the north transept of Westminster Abbey. 19th century plaster cast after mid-13th century British original.

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

Carpenter, D. 'Westminster Abbey: Some Characteristics of its Sculpture 1245-59'. Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 3rd series, XXXV (1972), 1-14, pls I-VII.
Cave, C.J.P. and Tanner, L.E. 'A Thirteenth-Century Choir of Angels in the North Transept of Westminster Abbey and the Adjacent Figures of Two Kings'. Archaeologia, LXXXIV (1934), 63-67.
Williamson, Paul. Gothic Sculpture, 1140-1300. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995. 200-7.
Cottingham, Lewis Nockalls, and Shaw, Henry. Catalogue of the Museum of Mediaeval Art Collected by the Late L.N. Cottingham . London: J. Davy & Sons, Printers, 1850.
'AA School of Architecture - History.' AA School Homepage. Web. 21 Jan. 2011. .

Production Note

19th century plaster cast after 13th century British original

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Scroll; Angel

Categories

Architecture; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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