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Shield

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (made)

  • Date:

    1868 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Franchi and Son (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electrotype of electroformed copper, electroplated and oxidysed and partly electrogilded

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1868-105

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Image unavailable

This shield is an electrotype replica made in 1868 of a shield designed by Henry Hugh Armstead and made by Hunt and Roskell in London in 1862. The original shield which has been on loan to the Museum since 1864 was made as a presentation piece for Lieutenant-General Sir James Outram, and commemorated his various military exploits in India.

Electrotype copies were used as design aids for students in the government schools of design under the aegis of the Department of Science and Art. This original of this shield was a prime candidate for copying: it was one of the English productions that helped reverse the perceived decline in English design. The original was exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862, where it was one of the works that gained Armstead, a medal. It was shown again at the Paris Exhibition of 1867.

The decorative treatment of the electrotype is a slightly simplified version of the original. The damascened borders on the original have been replicated on the electrotype but have been gilded as one.

Physical description

Electrotype copy of the Outram Shield, copper, silvered and oxidysed and partly gilded, depicting in high relief in the centre Sir James Outram offering troops to General Havelock for the relief of Lucknow in 1857, and in low relief on the surrounding band other scenes from Outram's career from the defeat of the Bhils in 1822 to the relief of Lucknow. On the inner gilded band surrounding the high relief scene are portrait medallions of Indian generals who sided with British Imperial forces while on the outer band are facetted studs.

Place of Origin

London, England (made)

Date

1868 (made)

Artist/maker

Franchi and Son (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electrotype of electroformed copper, electroplated and oxidysed and partly electrogilded

Marks and inscriptions

Inscription around the circumference:
" PRESENTED TO LT GEN SIR JAMES OUTRAM BART GCB OF HM BOMBAY ARMY BY HIS FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS AND THEIR AFFECTIONATE REGARD AND APPRECIATION OF THOSE STERLING ABILITIES WHICH HAVE EVER MARKED HIS BRILLIANT CAREER SINCE 1818 AND IN LASTING TESTIMONY TO HIS GALLANTRY SELF DEVOTION AND HIGH CHIVALROUS BEARING DURING THE OPERATIONS ATTENDING ON AND FOLLOWING THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW 1857"

Dimensions

Diameter: 94.0 cm, Depth: 15 cm

Object history note

This shield was bought by the Museum in 1868 from Messrs Franchi and Son of Clerkenwell, London for £55.0.0s. It is a replica of a shield designed by Henry Hugh Armstead and made by Hunt and Roskell in London in 1862. The original shield which has been on loan to the Museum since 1864 was made as a presentation piece for Lieutenant-General Sir James Outram, and commemorated his various military exploits in India.

Electrotype copies were used as design aids for students in the government schools of design under the aegis of the Department of Science and Art. This original of this shield was a prime candidate for copying: it was one of the English productions that helped reverse the perceived decline in English design. The original was exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862, where it was one of the works that gained Armstead, a medal. It was shown again at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Armstead was trained at the London School of Design and the Royal Academy, and therefore represents the success of the efforts to improve design in Britain that had begun with the Great Exhibition. The Illustrated London News claimed of the shield: ‘It indicates great progress in art, and although not without faults, is one of the productions of which both this country and age may well feel proud’. Producing asn electrotype of the shield enabled future generations of students at the government schools of design to examine the work of one of their star pupils.

The decorative treatment of the electrotype is a slightly simplified version of the original. The damascened borders on the original have been replicated on the electrotype but have been gilded as one.

The Museum's 19th-century register lists this shield as:
"'68.-105. SHIELD, copper, silvered and oxydised and parcel-gilt, "The Outram Shield." The original, of silver and steel damascened with gold, was presented to the late Sir James Outram, Bart., G.C.B., by friends in the Bombay Presidency. In the centre is a group of equestrian figures in high relief, representing the voluntary cession by Sir J. Outram to General Havelock of the troops destined to relieve Lucknow during the Indian mutiny, around this is a band damascened with gold containing medallion portraits in relief of distinguished Indian officers. A wider external band of groups of figures in low relief represents various events in Sir J. Outram's Indian career. The shield, which is now the property of Sir F.B. Outram, Bart., was manufactured ny Messrs. Hunt and Roskell from the designs of H.H. Armstead. Modern English. Diam 3ft. 3in. Messrs. Franchi and Son."

As an electrotype this shield is an example of a 19th-century design model. Electrotypes play a key role in helping us to understand the V&A in its earliest days.

The V&A grew largely out of the Great Exhibition in 1851 and, under the guidance of Henry Cole, sought to arrest the perceived decline in British design. The Museum aimed, initially, to collect 'modern manufactures' for the education of manufacturers, designers and the public. Cole was also in charge of the Government Schools of Design, which he set about reforming. Cole passionately believed in the potential of both museums and the schools of design, to raise standards of taste.

The appointment of John Charles Robinson as curator of the Museum in 1853 heralded a change in focus. Robinson persuaded Cole that historic works of art were as instructive as contemporary work. For Cole and Robinson, if historic works of art could not be acquired, copies were the next best option.

The Museum bought electrotypes as part of its growing collection of reproductions. This collection enabled students to look closely at both modern and historic objects that were otherwise inaccessible. Electrotypes provided the same function as the Museum's collection of plaster casts.

Electrotypes are also relics of 19th-century industrialisation and mass production. The process of electroplating and electrotyping favoured companies that could afford large factories and expensive technology. The power of the machinery and new technology now at the disposal of the silver industry allowed modern mass production to develop. Electroplaters could create thousands of identical objects using a fraction of the amount of silver to create "a degree of mechanical finish it would be difficult to surpass" (Art Union, 1846). The focus of silver and silver product manufacture moved from London to the new factories of Birmingham and Sheffield.

Some smaller companies trying to keep pace with industrial change suffered. The large vats of potassium cyanide required spacious, well-ventilated factories. A report at the Great Exhibition claimed workers in smaller companies suffered blistered skin, headaches temporary blindness and nausea.

Historical context note

This shield is an electrotype, an exact copy in metal of another object. Electrotypes were a by-product of the invention of electroplating (silver plating by electrolysis).

ELECTROPLATING: Electricity revolutionised the trade of coating base metal objects with silver. Patented by Elkington and Company in the 1840s, this technique was the fulfilment of a century of research into the effects of electricity on metals. A negatively charged silver bar, suspended in a vat of potassium cyanide, deposited a coating of silver on a positively charged base metal (mostly copper, later nickel-silver) object immersed with it. Electroplated objects were fully formed in base metal before plating.

ELECTROGILDING exploited the same technique but used gold bars instead of silver. It was safer than traditional mercury gilding.

ELECTROFORMING transferred the metal deposits directly into the moulds in the plating vats. When enough metal had been deposited to create a self-supporting object the mould was removed. Developed by Alexander Parkes, electroforms so accurately mirrored the moulds in which they were created that multiple copies could be created (ELECTROTYPES).

During the electrotyping process a mould was taken of the original object. In this mould a copper type pattern was electroformed. From this type pattern subsequent moulds were created in which electrotypes were formed. This shield was therefore electroformed in copper from moulds made from a type pattern which itself was electroformed in a mould of the original. The copper electrotype was then electroplated and electrogilded.

Electrotypes usually have a gold or silver finish but they did not just replicate gold and silver objects. Electrotypes were taken from a variety of material including even leather.

Early experiments in electroplating, often by amateur scientists using Elkington's home electroplating kits, involved coating fruit, flowers and animals in silver or gold "with the most perfect accuracy". They "retained all the characteristics of the specimens before their immersion" (Penny Magazine, 1844). The Art Journal enthused in same year, "The electrotypes are perfect; the finest lines, the most minute dots are as faithfully copied as the boldest objections"

Henry Cole, the first director of the South Kensington Museum (V&A), quickly grasped the educational potential of this new technique. He employed Elkington's and Franchi & Son of Clerkenwell to take moulds of historic and modern objects in the Museum (at their own risk), create copies in a base metal and then electroplate them. These could be sold freely as reproductions, with a gold, silver or bronze finish, provided they bore the South Kensington Museum's official stamp. To avoid breaking English hallmarking laws, all marks were to be deleted from copies of silver objects. Copies were made of successful modern objects as well as historic works of art

Elkington's display of electrotypes at the 1867 Paris Exhibition proved extremely popular and prompted Cole to organise a convention at which 14 European countries agreed to exchange works of art. Representatives of Elkington's and the V&A sent staff to Germany, Sweden, France, Denmark and Hungary. The most ambitious trip, to Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1880, secured copies of over 200 items from the Kremlin and the Hermitage, including the celebrated Jerningham Wine Cooler and much Elizabethan and Stuart silver sent as ambassadorial gifts to the Tsars. By 1920 the V&A held over 2000 electrotypes. Copies toured the country as part of the museum's educational programmes and were sold to the public and to museums and art schools.

Descriptive line

Electrotype copy of the Outram Shield, copper, silvered and gilded, Giovanni Franchi and Son, London, 1868

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

Glanville, Philippa, ed., Silver, Victora and Albert Museum, London, 1996, pp. 60-1
For general information on electrotypes
Bury, Shirley, Victorian Electroplate, Country Life Collectors' Series, 1971
For a general history of electrotypes

Production Note

Attribution note: Electrotype

Materials

Silver; Gold; Copper

Techniques

Electrotyping; Electroforming

Subjects depicted

Horse; War; Battle; Lucknow

Categories

Metalwork; Ceremonial objects; Arms & Armour; Politics

Production Type

Copy

Collection code

MET

Qr_O375267
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