Pair of Brackets

1807 (made)
We don’t have an image of this object online yet. V&A Images may have a photograph that we can’t show online, but it may be possible to supply one to you. Email us at vaimages@vam.ac.uk for guidance about fees and timescales, quoting the accession number: W.51&A-1946
Find out about our images

Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

These brackets, made of plaster and gilded, were designed to be fixed to the wall for the display of small sculptures, busts, vases or other ornaments. Both brackets are carved on the front with the name of the sculptor, Humphrey Hopper, and the date, 1807. This identification, clearly intended to be visible, is a result of legislation introduced in 1798 to give sculptors protection for fourteen years over their original designs provided the work was signed and dated. The 1798 Act was the result of the successful trade in unauthorised copies of fashionable and popular sculptures or busts, produced by modellers and sold in plaster shops.

Hopper himself worked both in marble, particularly for church monuments, and in plaster. His speciality was a range of plaster female figures in classical robes, which held or supported light fittings. Some of these figures were life-size, and others much smaller, with either a bronzed or gilded finish, like these brackets.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Bracket
  • Bracket
Materials and Techniques
plaster, modelled and gilded
Brief Description
Pair of brackets, gilded plaster, each with an eagle perched on a rock, the head and wings supporting a flat shelf with shaped front, by Humphrey Hopper, British 1807
Style
Object history
When this pair of wall brackets were purchased in 1946, they were described as 'from de Sumarez Castle Isle of Wight'. This building has not yet been identified.



The brackets were purchased from the firm of A.T. Bowden & Co. Ltd., a firm of antique dealers in Duke Street, London, one of whose managers was the decorator, Ronald Fleming (1896-1968). In 1927 Fleming had owned the Thomas Hope table (W.19-1976).
Historical context
In Britain, a thriving trade in the marketing of three-dimensional images made of plaster, particularly sculptures, busts and brackets, developed from the late 1730s. John Cheere (1709-87), who took over an existing business producing lead garden sculpture in about 1738, may have been the first craftsman to produce plaster casts with either a bronzed or marbled and gilded finish. The trade in these plaster models, which could be reproduced cheaply and easily, rapidly expanded with the establishment of plaster shops, run by modellers, who provided a wide range of casts. These were produced for the use of cabinet-makers, clock-makers, goldsmiths, jewellers, pottery and porcelain manufacturers, and other trades. Modellers may have used a range of sources for their designs, including sketches, engravings, architectural specifications, or original sculptures.



The technical ease with which original sculptures, busts and other models could be copied in plaster, combined with the competition between the plaster shops, encouraged the spread of plagiarism and resulted in protests from a group of sculptors. An Act, sometimes called the Garrard Act after the sculptor George Garrard, was passed in June 1798, giving those responsible for a original design copyright protection for fourteen years over their work, provided each piece was signed and dated. The signatures and dates inscribed on this pair of brackets are an example of this copyright protection.



The development of plaster shops, descriptions of some individual firms and their products, and the influence of the Garrard Act, are explored in an article by Timothy Clifford, The Plaster Shops of the Rococo and Neo-Classical Era in Britain, Journal of the History of Collections, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1992, pp. 39-65.
Subjects depicted
Summary
These brackets, made of plaster and gilded, were designed to be fixed to the wall for the display of small sculptures, busts, vases or other ornaments. Both brackets are carved on the front with the name of the sculptor, Humphrey Hopper, and the date, 1807. This identification, clearly intended to be visible, is a result of legislation introduced in 1798 to give sculptors protection for fourteen years over their original designs provided the work was signed and dated. The 1798 Act was the result of the successful trade in unauthorised copies of fashionable and popular sculptures or busts, produced by modellers and sold in plaster shops.



Hopper himself worked both in marble, particularly for church monuments, and in plaster. His speciality was a range of plaster female figures in classical robes, which held or supported light fittings. Some of these figures were life-size, and others much smaller, with either a bronzed or gilded finish, like these brackets.
Collection
Accession Number
W.51&A-1946

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 24, 2009
Record URL