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Presbyster Bruno

  • Object:

    Copy of a Tombstone

  • Place of origin:

    Hildesheim (Copy, made)
    Hildesheim (Original, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1873 (made)
    ca. 1200 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Küsthardt, Friedrich (caster)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1873-380

  • Gallery location:

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

In 1873, the Museum acquired a number of plaster casts of key sculptural monuments from the cathedral of Hildesheim, Germany. This cast is one of them. It reproduces the slab of an elaborate tomb memorial which commemorates a priest, Bruno, who is praised in the inscriptions for giving charity to the poor. The cast is displayed upright to reflect the position of the original slab in the cathedral today.

Physical description

Plaster cast of a tombstone commemmorating Bruno the priest in Hildesheim Cathedral. Bruno is praised in the inscriptions for giving charity to the poor. The cast is displayed upright to reflect the position of the original slab in the cathedral today.

Place of Origin

Hildesheim (Copy, made)
Hildesheim (Original, made)

Date

ca. 1873 (made)
ca. 1200 (made)

Artist/maker

Küsthardt, Friedrich (caster)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 218.5 cm, Width: 77 cm

Object history note

Cast of a tombstone to commemmorate Bruno the Priest made by Friedrich Künsthardt in Hildesheim about 1873 and purchased from F. Künsthardt in 1873 for £6. The original was made in stone by an unknwon artist in Hildesheim about 1200 and is from Hildesheim Cathedral.

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 tombstone commemorating Bruno the Priest made by Friedrich Küsthardt in Hildesheim about 1873. The original was made in Hildesheim about 1200.

Labels and date

Cast of
Unknown artist
Memorial to Bruno the Priest
About 1200

In 1873, the Museum acquired a number of plaster casts of key sculptural monuments from the cathedral of Hildesheim, Germany. This cast is one of them. It reproduces the slab of an elaborate tomb memorial which commemorates a priest, Bruno, who is praised in the inscriptions for giving charity to the poor. The cast is displayed upright to reflect the position of the original slab in the cathedral today.

Cast
Friedrich Küsthardt
About 1873
Painted plaster
Hildesheim, Germany
Museum no. Repro.1873-380

Original
Stone
Hildesheim, Germany
Hildesheim Cathedral (in the cloister)
[21/06/2018]
In 1873, the Museum acquired a number of plaster casts of key sculptural decorations in the cathedral of Hildesheim, all produced by the Hildesheim sculptor Friedrich Küsthardt. This slab reproduces an elaborate tomb memorial, which commemorates a priest who is praised in the inscriptions for having given to the poor. It is unclear whether this slab would originally have been displayed horizontally. Today, it is displayed like the cast in the gallery at the V&A, upright.

Glyn Davies []

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Tombstones

Categories

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

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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