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Chalk drawing - Study of ornament from the cast

Study of ornament from the cast

  • Object:

    Chalk drawing

  • Place of origin:

    London (drawn)

  • Date:

    1840 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Herman, R. W. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black and white chalks on buff paper

  • Credit Line:

    Presented to the National Art Training Schools, South Kensington, by the artist

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 172

Object Type
This drawing was made by a student at the School of Design in Ornamental Art. Students were expected to learn the principles of good design by studying plaster casts of classical sculptures and architectural ornament, and by making careful detailed drawings of them. To encourage high standards, prizes were offered for the best student work.

Drawing from casts of figure sculptures was a long-established part of the training for painters and sculptors. When the first schools of design were set up they adopted this feature of art school training, but used casts of architecture and ornament instead of figures. Drawing from casts encouraged students to look closely at the forms and helped them to understand how things were constructed. It also developed their ability to represent a thing accurately and to scale. All these skills were vital for designers who had to make drawings and diagrams to be followed by makers and manufacturers.

Historical Associations
The School of Design in Ornamental Art was established in 1837. The School put together a collection of casts and other works of art for the students to study and copy. In due course these were added to the exhibits at the Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House, and eventually they became part of the collections of the V&A.

Physical description

A drawing made in chalks

Place of Origin

London (drawn)


1840 (drawn)


Herman, R. W. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Black and white chalks on buff paper

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed on the back in pencil 'This drawing obtained the first prize ever offered by the Government School of Design for drawing ornament from the cast.1840'

Descriptive line

R. W. Herman, prize drawing for Government School of Design, study of a plaster cast of ornament, 1840

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Owens, Susan, The Art of Drawing British Masters And Methods Since 1600, V&A Publishing, London, 2013, p. 115 & 118, fig. 93
Julius Bryant, ed. Art and Design for All. The Victoria and Albert Museum London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN: 9781851776665.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
With this drawing, R.W. Herman won the first prize ever awarded by the Government School of Design in South Kensington for a drawing of a cast. Casts were used both as examples of ornament and models for three-dimensional drawing. Drawing from casts would have constituted a major element of the education for most students in schools of design. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Signed and dated 1840




Drawings; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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