Fig Leaf for David

Cast
ca. 1857 (made)
Fig Leaf for David thumbnail 1
Fig Leaf for David thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This fig-leaf was hung on the David on the occasion of visits by royal ladies. It was last used in the time of Queen Mary (1867-1953). According to anecdotal information, on her first encounter with the cast of 'David', Queen Victoria was so shocked by his nudity that a firm suggestion was made that something has to be done. Consequently, the correctly proportioned fig leaf was created and stored in readiness for any visit the Queen might make, for which occasions it was hung on the figure from two strategically implanted hooks.
The Queen was not alone in her objection to David's nudity. In 1903 a Mr. Dobson protested to the museum about the nude male statuary displayed: "One can hardly designate these figures as 'art'!, if it is, it is a very objectionable form of art."
Tin fig leaves had been used in the early years of the Museum on other nude statuary but, along with the British Museum, the authorities at South Kensington dismissed later objections, noting that "The antique casts gallery has been very much used by private lady teachers for the instruction of young girl students and none of them have ever complained even directly." The fig leave is currently displayed in a case attached to the back of the pedestal for David in the east Cast Court.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster, fig leaf for the cast of David, probably by D.Brucciani & Co., London, in about 1857.
Physical Description
Plaster fig Leaf for the cast of the figure of Michelangelo's "David"
Dimensions
  • Height: 40cm
  • Width: 30cm
  • Depth: 17cm
  • Weight: 3kg
Gallery Label
According to popular anecdote, this fig leaf was created for the cast of Michelangelo's David because Queen Victoria was shocked by the figure's nudity. In fact it is unlikely that the queen herself objected, since she and Prince Albert collected many works of art featuring male and female nudes. Nonetheless, the fig leaf was fixed to the figure on the occasion of visits by royalty, and was last used in the early 20th century.(2014)
Object history
Acquired in 1857, further details of acquisition unrecorded.
Historical context
This fig-leaf was hung on the David on the occasion of visits by royal ladies. It was last used in the time of Queen Mary (1867-1953). According to anecdotal information, on her first encounter with the cast of 'David', Queen Victoria was so shocked by his nudity that a firm suggestion was made that something has to be done. Consequently, the correctly proportioned fig leaf was created and stored in readiness for any visit the Queen might make, for which occasions it was hung on the figure from two strategically implanted hooks.

The Queen was not alone in her objection to David's nudity. In 1903 a Mr. Dobson protested to the museum about the nude male statuary displayed: "One can hardly designate these figures as 'art'!, if it is, it is a very objectionable form of art."

Tin fig leaves had been used in the early years of the Museum on other nude statuary but, along with the British Museum, the authorities at South Kensington dismissed later objections, noting that "The antique casts gallery has been very much used by private lady teachers for the instruction of young girl students and none of them have ever complained even directly." The fig leave is currently displayed in a case attached to the back of the pedestal for David in the east Cast Court.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This fig-leaf was hung on the David on the occasion of visits by royal ladies. It was last used in the time of Queen Mary (1867-1953). According to anecdotal information, on her first encounter with the cast of 'David', Queen Victoria was so shocked by his nudity that a firm suggestion was made that something has to be done. Consequently, the correctly proportioned fig leaf was created and stored in readiness for any visit the Queen might make, for which occasions it was hung on the figure from two strategically implanted hooks.

The Queen was not alone in her objection to David's nudity. In 1903 a Mr. Dobson protested to the museum about the nude male statuary displayed: "One can hardly designate these figures as 'art'!, if it is, it is a very objectionable form of art."

Tin fig leaves had been used in the early years of the Museum on other nude statuary but, along with the British Museum, the authorities at South Kensington dismissed later objections, noting that "The antique casts gallery has been very much used by private lady teachers for the instruction of young girl students and none of them have ever complained even directly." The fig leave is currently displayed in a case attached to the back of the pedestal for David in the east Cast Court.
Bibliographic Reference
Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1857A-161

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record createdNovember 10, 2003
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