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Copy of an Effigy - Queen Eleanor of Castile

Queen Eleanor of Castile

  • Object:

    Copy of an Effigy

  • Place of origin:

    London (Copy, made)
    England (Original, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1858 (made)
    1291-93 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Torel, William (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1858:1, 2-277

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Eleanor of Castile’s effigy was part of a grand scheme of monuments commissioned by her husband, King Edward I, to mark her death. This included a tomb at Blackfriars in London for her heart, and a series of elaborate stone crosses marking the route of her funeral procession from Lincolnshire to London – the ‘Eleanor Crosses’. The original effigy was made from bronze, an expensive material. William Torel, its maker, is celebrated with a statue on the outside of this Museum on Exhibition Road.

Physical description

Plaster cast of the effigy of Eleanor of Castile from Westminster Abbey.

Place of Origin

London (Copy, made)
England (Original, made)

Date

ca. 1858 (made)
1291-93 (made)

Artist/maker

Torel, William (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Dimensions

Length: 213.5 cm, Width: 77 cm

Object history note

Copy of an effigy of Eleanor of Castile made from plaster in London about 1858 and acquired in 1858, further details of acquisition unrecorded. The original was made in bronze by William Torel in England in 1291-93. The original is from Westminster Abbey.

Historical context note

Making plaster copies is a centuries-old tradition that reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century. The V&A's casts are of large-scale architectural and sculptural works as well as small scale, jewelled book covers and ivory plaques, these last known as fictile ivories.

The Museum commissioned casts directly from makers and acquired others in exchange. Oronzio Lelli, of Florence was a key overseas supplier while, in London, Giovanni Franchi and Domenico Brucciani upheld a strong Italian tradition as highly-skilled mould-makers, or formatori.

Some casts are highly accurate depictions of original works, whilst others are more selective, replicating the outer surface of the original work, rather than its whole structure. Like a photograph, they record the moment the cast was taken: alterations, repairs and the wear and tear of age are all reproduced in the copies. The plasters can also be re-worked, so that their appearance differs slightly from the original from which they were taken.

To make a plaster cast, a negative mould has to be taken of the original object. The initial mould could be made from one of several ways. A flexible mould could be made by mixing wax with gutta-percha, a rubbery latex product taken from tropical trees. These two substances formed a mould that had a slightly elastic quality, so that it could easily be removed from the original object. Moulds were also made from gelatine, plaster or clay, and could then be used to create a plaster mould to use for casting.
When mixed with water, plaster can be poured into a prepared mould, allowed to set, and can be removed to produce a finished solid form. The moulds are coated with a separating or paring agent to prevent the newly poured plaster sticking to them. The smooth liquid state and slight expansion while setting allowed the quick drying plaster to infill even the most intricate contours of a mould.
Flatter, smaller objects in low relief usually require only one mould to cast the object. For more complex objects, with a raised surface, the mould would have to be made from a number of sections, known as piece-moulds. These pieces are held together in the so-called mother-mould, in order to create a mould of the whole object. Once the object has been cast from this mother-mould, the piece-moulds can be easily removed one by one, to create a cast of the three-dimensional object.

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of an effigy of Eleanor of Castile made in London about 1858. The original was made by William Torel in 1291-93.

Labels and date

Cast of
William Torel (active 1291–1303)
Effigy of Eleanor of Castile
1291–93

Eleanor of Castile’s effigy was part of a grand scheme of monuments commissioned by her husband, King Edward I, to mark her death. This included a tomb at Blackfriars in London for her heart, and a series of elaborate stone crosses marking the route of her funeral procession from Lincolnshire to London – the ‘Eleanor Crosses’. The original effigy was made from bronze, an expensive material. William Torel, its maker, is celebrated with a statue on the outside of this Museum on Exhibition Road.

Cast
About 1858
Painted plaster
London
Museum no. Repro.1858:1, 2-277

Original
Bronze
England
Westminster Abbey, London [21/06/2018]
This plaster cast after the original gilt bronze effigy of Queen Eleanor of Castile, first wife of Edward I (1241-90), by William Torel, ca. 1291-3 from the Confessor's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, London

After Eleanor's death in Harby, Lincolnshire, her body was transported with great pomp to Westminster. At the twelve resting-places of the funeral bier, 'Eleanor Crosses' were erected, each one displaying images of the Queen. Only three of these still survive, at Geddington, Hardingstone (Northampton) and Waltham.

Marion Friedmann []

Production Note

Plaster cast reproduction of original in gilt bronze by William Torel in Westminster Abbey

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Sepulchral monuments

Categories

Sculpture; Architecture; Religion; Christianity; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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