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Plaster cast

Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1851 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    V&A Reproduction Department (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125c, case WS

Object Type
This plaster cast was one of many made primarily to educate students and craftsmen, and was one of the earliest acquisitions of the Museum. It is taken from the 15th-century church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice, which was highly regarded by Ruskin, and considered by many to be one of the most important examples of early Renaissance Venetian architecture.

Materials & Making
Plaster casts were the most common three-dimensional reproductions of architectural details and sculpture, and were produced in great numbers during the 19th century in particular. The wet plaster of Paris (ground alabaster mixed with water) was poured into a mould, and then left to set. Often moulds of a complicated original were made in more than one piece (known as piece-moulds), and the resulting casts joined together with more wet plaster after they had been released from the moulds.

Works of art from Italy (especially Venice, Florence and Rome) were and still are among the most sought-after and most studied examples in Europe and America. Many casts were acquired by the Museum from Italy; at first these were shown alongside original objects (objects which were not reproductions). From the early 1870s onwards plaster casts were displayed in the large galleries known as the Architectural Courts (now known as the Cast Courts). Here they were seen during the 19th century in the company of architectural models, drawings, other items of sculpture and architectural fragments.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1851 (made)


V&A Reproduction Department (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast


Height: 86.5 cm, Width: 21 cm, Depth: 3.5 cm

Object history note

Cast from a panel possibly from the church of Sta Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, Italy

Descriptive line

Plaster cast from Architectural component of Santa Maria de'Miracoli, Venice, 15th Century

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

Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
Burton, Anthony, Precious an illustrated guide to the exhibition held at the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, 5 April.-24 June 2001, Sheffield, Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust, 2001

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Architectural ornament was considered an essential part of a student's design education. The Schools of Design collected both original examples and casts of ornament for students to draw. This cast was taken from an early Renaissance church in Venice. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Cast from a 15th-century original


Architectural fittings


Sculpture Collection

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