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Brutus

  • Object:

    Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (original, sculpted)
    Florence (copy , cast)

  • Date:

    1539-1540 (sculpted)
    ca. 1864 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)
    Stiattesi Signor (maker)
    Calcagni, Tiberio, born 1532 - died 1565 (sculptor)
    Brutus, Lucius Junius (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1864-14

  • Gallery location:

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

This is a plaster cast of a marble original by Michelangelo, who portrayed Brutus, the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins, as a symbol of the republican ideals of Florence. He carved the bust for a cardinal, giving it to his friend the sculptor Tiberio Calcagni to complete. The work remained roughly carved when both artists died. The Museum acquired this plaster copy in the mid 19th century from the caster Signor Stiattesi, who cast this work in about 1864.

The cast is 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

Bust of Brutus looking left.

Place of Origin

Florence (original, sculpted)
Florence (copy , cast)

Date

1539-1540 (sculpted)
ca. 1864 (cast)

Artist/maker

Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)
Stiattesi Signor (maker)
Calcagni, Tiberio, born 1532 - died 1565 (sculptor)
Brutus, Lucius Junius (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 96.5 cm, Width: 66.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Signor Stiattesi in 1864 for £1 4s (30 francs).

Historical context note

According to Vasari (1550), Michelangelo executed the bust for Cardinal Niccolo Ridolfi, at the request of Donato Gianotti who entered Ridolfi's service in 1539.

Descriptive line

Plaster Cast, painted plaster, bust of Brutus, after the marble original in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence, by Michelangelo and Tiberio Calcagni, 1539-40, cast by Signor Stiattesi, Florence, ca. 1864

Labels and date

Michelangelo portrayed Brutus, the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins, as a symbol of the republican ideals of Florence. He carved the bust for a cardinal,
giving it to his friend the sculptor Tiberio Calcagni to complete. The work remained roughly carved when both artists died. The Museum acquired this plaster
copy in the mid 19th century. [2014]

Materials

Plaster

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Statesmen; Classicism

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Portraits; Plaster Cast

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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