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Copy of a Capital

  • Place of origin:

    Nazareth (Original, made)

  • Date:

    1930 (made)
    ca. 1170 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1930-2

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A

These are copies of capitals that were excavated from a site near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. They depict the Miraculous Draught of Fishes and the Raising of Tabitha by St Peter, Christ appearing before Doubting Thomas, and the Virgin Mary leading an Apostle out of Hell. Buried in the ground for centuries, the capitals were almost perfectly preserved when they were unearthed in 1908.

Physical description

Plaster cast of a capital depicting Christ appearing before Doubting Thomas.

Place of Origin

Nazareth (Original, made)

Date

1930 (made)
ca. 1170 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 43.5 cm

Object history note

Cast of a capital made in plaster in 1930. The cast depicts the Miraculous Draught of Fishes and the Raising of Tabitha by St Peter and was purchased from the Musée de Sculpture Comparée, Palais du Trocadéro, Paris in 1930 together with museum nos. A.1930-1 to 3 for £52 8s. The original was excavated from a site near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and made about 1170. The capitals were almost perfectly preserved when they were unearthed in 1908.

Historical context note

Making plaster copies is a centuries-old tradition that reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century. The V&A's casts are of large-scale architectural and sculptural works as well as small scale, jewelled book covers and ivory plaques, these last known as fictile ivories.

The Museum commissioned casts directly from makers and acquired others in exchange. Oronzio Lelli, of Florence was a key overseas supplier while, in London, Giovanni Franchi and Domenico Brucciani upheld a strong Italian tradition as highly-skilled mould-makers, or formatori.

Some casts are highly accurate depictions of original works, whilst others are more selective, replicating the outer surface of the original work, rather than its whole structure. Like a photograph, they record the moment the cast was taken: alterations, repairs and the wear and tear of age are all reproduced in the copies. The plasters can also be re-worked, so that their appearance differs slightly from the original from which they were taken.

To make a plaster cast, a negative mould has to be taken of the original object. The initial mould could be made from one of several ways. A flexible mould could be made by mixing wax with gutta-percha, a rubbery latex product taken from tropical trees. These two substances formed a mould that had a slightly elastic quality, so that it could easily be removed from the original object. Moulds were also made from gelatine, plaster or clay, and could then be used to create a plaster mould to use for casting.
When mixed with water, plaster can be poured into a prepared mould, allowed to set, and can be removed to produce a finished solid form. The moulds are coated with a separating or paring agent to prevent the newly poured plaster sticking to them. The smooth liquid state and slight expansion while setting allowed the quick drying plaster to infill even the most intricate contours of a mould.
Flatter, smaller objects in low relief usually require only one mould to cast the object. For more complex objects, with a raised surface, the mould would have to be made from a number of sections, known as piece-moulds. These pieces are held together in the so-called mother-mould, in order to create a mould of the whole object. Once the object has been cast from this mother-mould, the piece-moulds can be easily removed one by one, to create a cast of the three-dimensional object.

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of a capital made in 1930. The original was excavated from a site near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth and made in about 1170.

Labels and date

3. Casts of
Unknown artist
Column Capitals
About 1170

These are copies of capitals that were excavated from a site near the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. They depict the Miraculous Draught of Fishes and the Raising of Tabitha by St Peter, Christ appearing before Doubting Thomas, and the Virgin Mary leading an Apostle out of Hell. Buried in the ground for centuries, the capitals were almost perfectly preserved when they were unearthed in 1908.

Casts
1930
Painted plaster
Musée de Sculpture Comparée,
Palais du Trocadéro, Paris
Museum nos. Repro.A.1930-1 to 3

Originals
Stone
Nazareth
Church of the Annunciation,
Terra Sancta Museum, Israel [04/07/2018]

Production Note

Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Capitals

Categories

Ph_survey; Architecture; Sculpture; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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