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Christ

  • Object:

    Electrotype

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (original, sculpted)
    London (electrotype, cast)

  • Date:

    1618-1621 (sculpted)
    ca. 1866 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Palma, Felice, born 1583 - died 1625 (sculptor)
    Giovanni Franchi and Son (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electrotype copper

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1866-20

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court , case FS, shelf C

This is an electrotype of an original bronze Christ in the Cathedral of Pisa by Felice Palma, made in Florence in about 1618-21. The electrotype is made by Messrs Giovanni Franci & Son, London, ca. 1866.

The original of this figure of Christ stands above a marble holy water stoup opposite a group surmounted by a companion figure of St. John the Baptist (museum no. 1866-21) on either side of the nave of Pisa Cathedral. The electrotypes of both figures were purchased in 1866 as copies of works by Giambologna (Giovanni Bologna) (1529-1608), but they are signed on their bases FEL.PARMA SCVL. Both the groups and the figures of Christ and St John were commissioned by the operaio of the cathedral, Curzio Ceuli, who recorded in 1618 that he had commissioned the bronze figures from "Felice Palma scultore in Firenze" (Felice Palma, sculptor in Florence) and that he had not yet received them. They must have been delivered in 1621 when he ordered two marble pedestals to support the figures above the groups from the marble carver, Francesco Cioli.

The eletrotype is displayed in one of the two magnificent Cast Courts at the V&A. Since they were first opened in 1873, these galleries have displayed reproductions of some of the most significant monuments of medieval and Renaissance Europe. In these galleries one can view plaster casts of sculptures from Renaissance Italy, notably some of the masterpieces produced by Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Michelangelo.
The sculptures are faithful copies of the originals. They were made in the 19th century, when the vogue for replicated works of art was at its height. Museum visitors at that time generally had little opportunity to travel abroad, and illustrated art books were costly. These superb casts could afford people a rare glimpse of the original sculptures, even if they could not visit Florence or Rome. Artists and designers then and now could likewise sketch and learn from them.

Place of Origin

Florence (original, sculpted)
London (electrotype, cast)

Date

1618-1621 (sculpted)
ca. 1866 (cast)

Artist/maker

Palma, Felice, born 1583 - died 1625 (sculptor)
Giovanni Franchi and Son (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electrotype copper

Marks and inscriptions

FEL.PARMA SCVL
Felice Palma

Dimensions

Height: 105.5 cm, Width: 29.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Messrs Franchi & Sons in 1866 for £25.

Historical context note

The original of the pendant figure of St John the Baptist (museum no. 1866-21) stands above a marble holy water stoup opposite a group surmounted by a companion figure of Christ on either side of the nave of Pisa Cathedral. The electrotypes of both figures were purchased in 1866 as copies of works by Giambologna (Giovanni Bologna) (1529-1608), but they are signed on their bases FEL.PARMA SCVL. Both the groups and the figures of Christ and St John were commissioned by the operaio of the cathedral, Curzio Ceuli, who recorded in 1618 that he had commissioned the bronze figures from "Felice Palma scultore in Firenze" (Felice Palma, sculptor in Florence) and that he had not yet received them. They must have been delivered in 1621 when he ordered two marble pedestals to support the figures above the groups from the marble carver, Francesco Cioli.

Descriptive line

Electrotype (statuette), of Christ, after the bronze original by Felice Palma in the Cathedral Pisa, Florence, 1618-21, cast by Messrs Giovanni Franchi, London, ca. 1866

Labels and date

The original bronze sculpture is in Pisa Cathedral. It is part of a group that includes a figure of St John the Baptist, also reproduced and displayed nearby. The electrotypes were made in the 19th century by the London-based firm Franchi and Son. The Museum acquired them believing they were reproductions of sculptures by Giambologna, despite Felice Palma’s signature on the originals. [2014]

Materials

Copper

Techniques

Electrotyping

Subjects depicted

Haloes; Figures (representations)

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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