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Cast - Madonna and Child
  • Madonna and Child
    Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564
  • Enlarge image

Madonna and Child

  • Object:

    Cast

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (original, made)
    Bruges (probably, cast)

  • Date:

    1504-6 (made)
    ca. 1872 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1872-62

  • Gallery location:

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

This is a plaster cast after Michelangelo's marble original, 1504-06, in the Church of Notre-dame, Bruges, Belgium. The maker of this cast is unknown and this is probably made in Bruges, late 1871. This cast was acquired from the Belgian government in 1872 through the international exchange scheme initiated by Henry Cole. The agreement facilitated exchange between museums across Europe of reproductions of objects in their respective countries. The document concluding this agreement, the International Convention, was signed by the fifteen crowned princes of Europe in 1867 at the Paris exhibition. With the aid of this agreement, the South Kensington Museum was able to amass a collection of casts unrivaled in its international scope and diversity.

The cast of the Bruges Madonna is today displayed alongside other casts of sculpture of Michelangelo in the east Cast Court, devoted entirely to reproductions of Italian works of art. It is probable that the surface of this cast was left unfinished to illustrate the complex network of piece molds required to make such a reproduction. Since they were first opened in 1873, the two magnificent Cast Court galleries at the V&A 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.

The original sculpture was purchased by Jean and Alexandre Mouscron, cloth merchants of Bruges with establishments in Rome and Florence. They shipped the Madonna to Bruges in 1506. There it was installed on an altar in the church of Notre Dame, and framed by a tabernacle of black and white marble designed by Jan de Heere of Ghent and his son Lucas and completed by 1571.

Physical description

The Virgin in seated with the Christ Child standing naked between her legs while he holds her left hand with his right. She holds a book on her right tigh.

Place of Origin

Florence (original, made)
Bruges (probably, cast)

Date

1504-6 (made)
ca. 1872 (made)

Artist/maker

Michelangelo, born 1475 - died 1564 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster

Dimensions

Height: 128 cm approx., Width: 64 cm approx., Depth: 63 cm approx.

Object history note

Acquired in exchange from the Royal Belgian Commission in 1872 for £40.

Historical context note

The origial was purchased by Jean and Alexandre Mouscron, cloth merchants of Bruges with establishments in Rome and Florence. They shipped the Madonna to Bruges in 1506. There it was installed on an altar in the church of Notre Dame, and framed by a tabernacle of black and white marble designed by Jan de Heere of Ghent and his son Lucas and completed by 1571.

Descriptive line

Plaster Cast, painted plaster, after the Madonna and Child (The Bruges Madonna) in the Church of Notre Dame, Bruges, by Michelangelo, Florence, 1504-06, cast probably in Belgium (Bruges), about 1872

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

Baker, Malcolm and Richardson, Brenda, eds. A Grand Design : The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1997, 431 p., ill. ISBN 1851773088
Trusted, Majorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007, p. 162, pl. 311

Labels and date

Michelangelo’s original sculpture is in a church in Bruges. This reproduction was made in the 19th century on the advice of the Museum’s first curator, John Charles Robinson, who described the sculpture as ‘one of the most highly finished, complete and most beautiful works of the great master’. The lines visible on the surface were possibly left to illustrate the complex network of moulds required to produce the cast. [2014]

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Cast

Subjects depicted

Maternity

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Plaster Cast

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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