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Plaster cast - David

David

  • Object:

    Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (city) (original, sculpted)
    Florence (probably, the plaster cast, cast)

  • Date:

    1428-1430 (sculpted)
    ca. 1885 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Donatello, born 1386 - died 1466 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast painted

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Rt. Hon. Sir J. Savile Lumley

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1885-197

  • Gallery location:

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

The bronze statue of the young hero David, with the head of the slain giant Goliath at his feet, of which this is a plaster copy, was commissioned from Donatello by Cosimo de’Medici in about 1430. It was the first known free-standing nude statue produced since classical times. For the Florentines, it stood as an allegory of civic virtues triumphing over brutality, and was as celebrated in the 19th century as it is today.

The cast 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. The painted surfaces of these reproductions often mirror the original stone or bronze, and the casts seem convincingly monumental. But they are made of plaster, a relatively fragile material.

Place of Origin

Florence (city) (original, sculpted)
Florence (probably, the plaster cast, cast)

Date

1428-1430 (sculpted)
ca. 1885 (cast)

Artist/maker

Donatello, born 1386 - died 1466 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast painted

Dimensions

Height: 168 cm

Object history note

Given by the Rt. Hon. Sir J. Savile Lumley, Ambassador to Rome, in 1885.

Descriptive line

Plaster Cast, painted plaster, after the bronze original of David, in the Museo Nationale (Bargello), Florence, by Donatello, Italy (Florence), 1428-30, cast probably in Florence, ca. 1885

Labels and date

Donatello’s bronze statue of David, with the head of Goliath at his feet, was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici in about 1430. It was the first known
free-standing nude statue produced since classical times. The biblical hero David was a symbol of freedom for the Florentine Republic. Copies of later
sculptures of David by Michelangelo and Verrocchio can be seen nearby. [2014]

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Casting

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Religion; Gender and Sexuality; Plaster Cast

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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