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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A

St George Slaying the Dragon

Copy of a Statue
ca. 1864 (made), 1373 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The original sculpture of St George slaying the dragon once topped a fountain in the courtyard of the royal palace of Prague. It was probably made by Hungarian artists working in collaboration with the renowned German/Czech architect and master-mason Peter Parler (1333–99). Parler is thought to have been involved with this sculpture because of its high quality. He came from a family of sculptors and master-masons, and was considered to be the most able craftsman at this time.

This plaster cast, acquired in 1864, demonstrates the Museum’s desire to display examples of monumental sculpture from across Europe. It has been painted to replicate the original bronze material. The mould of the cast would have been very complex and made in multiple parts, with a metal armature inside the thin legs of the horse to support the weight of its rider.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Copy of a Statue
  • Copy of a Spear
Materials and Techniques
Painted plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast of a statue depicting St George slaying the dragon probably made in Prague about 1864. The original was probably made by Martin and George of Kolozsvás/Kluj, perhaps with Peter Parler in 1373.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of a statue depicting St George slaying the dragon.
Dimensions
  • Height: 190.5cm
  • Length: 20.8cm
Production typeCopy
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Probably Martin and George of Kolozsvás/Kluj, perhaps with Peter Parler St George Slaying the Dragon 1373 The original sculpture of St George slaying the dragon once topped a fountain in the courtyard of the royal palace of Prague. It was probably made by Hungarian artists working in collaboration with the renowned German/Czech architect and master-mason Peter Parler (1333–99). Parler is thought to have been involved with this sculpture because of its high quality. He came from a family of sculptors and master-masons, and was considered to be the most able craftsman at this time. This plaster cast, acquired in 1864, demonstrates the Museum’s desire to display examples of monumental sculpture from across Europe. It has been painted to replicate the original bronze material. The mould of the cast would have been very complex and made in multiple parts, with a metal armature inside the thin legs of the horse to support the weight of its rider. Cast About 1864 Painted plaster Probably Prague Museum no. Repro.1864-113 Original Cast bronze Made for the courtyard of the Hradschin Palace, Prague National Gallery, Prague(21/06/2018)
  • St George on horseback slays the dragon with his lance on a rocky promontory. A bronze cast of a life size equestrian figure intended for a public space was unusual in the 14th century, and unique to Bohemia. The group originally surmounted a fountain in the courtyard of the royal palace of Prague. It was probably cast by the Hungarian artists Martin and George of Kolozsvás/Kluj, perhaps with the assistance of the German/Czech architect Peter Parléř (1330-1399). This plaster cast was acquired in 1864, a few years before the Cast Courts were opened, and demonstrates the Museum's desire to display copies of great monumental sculpture from across Europe. Holly Trusted
Object history
Copy of a statue depicting St George slaying the dragon, made in plaster probably in Prague about 1864 and acquired in 1864, further details of acquisition are unrecorded. The original was cast in bronze probably by Martin and George of Kolozsvás/Kluj and perhaps Peter Parler in 1373. It was made for the courtyard of the Hradschin Palace but now resides the National Gallery of Prague.
Historical context
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.
Production
Bohemian
Subjects depicted
Summary
The original sculpture of St George slaying the dragon once topped a fountain in the courtyard of the royal palace of Prague. It was probably made by Hungarian artists working in collaboration with the renowned German/Czech architect and master-mason Peter Parler (1333–99). Parler is thought to have been involved with this sculpture because of its high quality. He came from a family of sculptors and master-masons, and was considered to be the most able craftsman at this time.



This plaster cast, acquired in 1864, demonstrates the Museum’s desire to display examples of monumental sculpture from across Europe. It has been painted to replicate the original bronze material. The mould of the cast would have been very complex and made in multiple parts, with a metal armature inside the thin legs of the horse to support the weight of its rider.



Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1864-113

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record createdSeptember 20, 2006
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