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Plaster cast - Crouching boy
  • Crouching boy
    Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564
  • Enlarge image

Crouching boy

  • Object:

    Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (original, sculpted)
    London (or Birmingham (of cast), cast)

  • Date:

    ca. 1524 (sculpted)
    ca. 1884 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)
    Elkington & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1884-298

  • Gallery location:

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

This plaster cast was made after the marble original of the Crouching Boy by Michelangelo from 1524. The crouching boy was intended to form part of the decoration of the Medici Chapel in the New Sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. A drawing by Michelangelo in the British Museum (Wilde No.27r) shows two similar crouching figures above the entablature on the left of the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449-92). This design was never realised and the crouching boy remained unfinished in the Medici Collection, eventually passing to the Hermitage Collection in 1851. The cast was made in about 1884 by Elkington & Co in Birmingham or London.

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.

Physical description

A naked boy sitting on a pedestal and crouching, while his left arm hangs between his slightly open legs, meeting the fingers of his right hand just where his right foot is placed.

Place of Origin

Florence (original, sculpted)
London (or Birmingham (of cast), cast)

Date

ca. 1524 (sculpted)
ca. 1884 (cast)

Artist/maker

Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)
Elkington & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 55.5 cm, Width: 40.3 cm, Depth: 42.3 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Elkington & Co in 1884 for £10.

Historical context note

The crouching boy was intended to form part of the decoration of the Medici Chapel in the New Sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. A drawing by Michelangelo in the British Museum (Wilde No.27r) shows two similar crouching figures above the entablature on the left of the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449-92). This design was never realised and the crouching boy remained unfinished in the Medici Collection, eventually passing to the Hermitage Collection in 1851.

Descriptive line

Plaster Cast, painted plaster, after the marble original of the Crouching Boy, in the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, by Michelangelo, Italy (Florence), 1524, cast by Elkington & Co, Birmingham or London, ca. 1884

Labels and date

Michelangelo made the original marble figure for the chapel he designed for the Medici family. Like so many of his works, it remained unfinished. Considered the pinnacle of Renaissance sculpture, Michelangelo’s work was widely reproduced in the 19th century for students to draw and study. This cast is one of several made from moulds taken in Russia to reproduce the highlights of the Hermitage and Kremlin collections. [2014]

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Boys; Nudes

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Plaster Cast

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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