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Copy of a Font

  • Place of origin:

    London (Copy, made)
    East Meon (Original, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850-1900 (made)
    ca. 1150 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast painted black

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Architectual Association

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1916-44

  • Gallery location:

    Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A, case FS, shelf N

Two sides of the font are decorated with the story of Adam and Eve, while a frieze of animals, birds and classical columns adorns the others. The cast has been painted black to reflect the colour of the stone of the actual font. The original is in the Norman church in East Meon, Hampshire. It is thought to be a gift from the Bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois, in about 1150.

Physical description

Plaster cast of a font decorated on two sides with the Creation and the Fall of Man, while a frieze of animals, birds and classical columns adorns the others. The arrangement of the side panels differs from the original.

Place of Origin

London (Copy, made)
East Meon (Original, made)

Date

ca. 1850-1900 (made)
ca. 1150 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast painted black

Dimensions

Height: 43.5 cm, Length: 99 cm, Width: 99 cm

Object history note

Cast of a font depicting the story of Adam and Eve and a frieze of animals, birds and classical columns made in London about 1850-1900 and given by the Architectural Association in 1916. The arrangement of the side panels differs from the original in East Meon Church, Hampshire, England. The original was made in polished limestone (Tournai marble) by an unknown artist in East Meon about 1150. The font is thought to have been a gift form the Bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois in about 1150.

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 font decorated with the story of Adam and Eve and animals, birds and classical columns. The cast was made in about 1850-1900. The original was made about 1150.

Labels and date

Cast of
Unknown artist
Font
About 1150

Two sides of the font are decorated with the story of Adam and Eve, while a frieze of animals, birds and classical columns adorns the others. The cast has been painted black to reflect the colour of the stone of the actual font. The original is in the Norman church in East Meon, Hampshire. It is thought to be a gift from the Bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois, in about 1150.

Cast
About 1850–1900
Painted plaster
London
Given by the Architectural Association in 1916
Museum no. Repro.A.1916-44

Original
Polished limestone (Tournai marble)
East Meon Church, Hampshire [21/06/2018]
This is a cast of the Tournai font in East Meon Church. Around the sides are depicted the Creation and the Fall of Man amidst foliate decoration. Animals and birds are shown in a frieze around two sides of the font at the top, above classical columns. The arrangement of the scenes on the cast differs from the original. The font may have been a gift from the Bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois, in about 1150.

Holly Trusted []

Production Note

Flemish (Tournai)

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Fonts (religious building fixtures)

Categories

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

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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