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Copy of an Arch and Mouldings

  • Place of origin:

    England (Copy, made)
    York (Original, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1858 (made)
    ca. 1250 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1858-273

  • Gallery location:

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

The simple Gothic forms of 13th-century English architecture were especially admired by architects and antiquarians in the 1850s. To provide examples of the style, this Museum acquired casts of elements of architecture and sculpture from York Minster. The cast reproduces arrows on the surface of the original. Medieval masons made these marks to identify their work and to help them assemble the stones.

Physical description

Plaster cast of an arch and mouldings depicting an arch from the York Minster and reproducing arrows from the surface of the original which medieval masons made to identify thier work.

Place of Origin

England (Copy, made)
York (Original, made)

Date

ca. 1858 (made)
ca. 1250 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Width: 88 cm base

Object history note

Cast of an arch and mouldings created in plaster in England about 1858 and acquired by the museum in 1858. The aquisition of casts from York Minster were collected by the museum in order to provide examples of the much admired simple Gothic forms of 13th century England. The cast is of the arch from York Minster which was sculpted by an unknown artist in York about 1250.

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 an arch and mouldings from York Minster by an unknown caster in England about 1858. The original is by an unknown artist about 1250.

Labels and date

Cast of
Unknown artist
Arch and Mouldings
About 1250

The simple Gothic forms of 13th-century English architecture were especially admired by architects and antiquarians in the 1850s. To provide examples of the style, this Museum acquired casts of elements of architecture and sculpture from York Minster. The cast reproduces arrows on the surface of the original. Medieval masons made these marks to identify their work and to help them assemble the stones.

Cast
About 1858
Painted plaster
England
Museum no. Repro.1858-273

Original
Limestone
York, England
York Minster (north transept) [04/07/2018]

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Arches; Niches

Categories

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

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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