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Copy of an Effigy - Richard I, King of England

Richard I, King of England

  • Object:

    Copy of an Effigy

  • Place of origin:

    London (Copy

    (probably), made)
    France (Original, made)

  • Date:

    1852-1854 (made)
    ca. 1200 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster cast

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Trustees of the Crystal Palace

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.A.1938:2-3

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The original sculpture is one of an important series of royal effigies from the French abbey of Fontrevault, founded in the 12th century. The casts of these effigies were once at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, where between 1852 and 1854 ‘casts of the works of eminent sculptors in every age’ were displayed. After a devastating fire at the Crystal Palace in 1936, some of these casts came to the V&A.

Physical description

Plaster cast, with restored pigmentation of the stone effigy of Richard I, King of England.

Place of Origin

London (Copy

(probably), made)
France (Original, made)

Date

1852-1854 (made)
ca. 1200 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster cast

Object history note

Copy of an effigy of Richard I in plaster probably made in London in 1852-54 and given by the Trustees of the Crystal Palace in 1938 following a fire at the Crystal Palace. The original was made from polychrome stone in France about 1200.

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

Copy of an effigy of Richard I probably made in London in 1852-54. The original was made in France about 1200.

Labels and date

Cast of
Unknown artist
Effigy of Richard I (Richard the Lionheart)
About 1200

The original sculpture is one of an important series of royal effigies from the French abbey of Fontrevault, founded in the 12th century. The casts of these effigies were once at the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, where between 1852 and 1854 ‘casts of the works of eminent sculptors in every age’ were displayed. After a devastating fire at the Crystal Palace in 1936, some of these casts came to the V&A.

Cast
1852–54
Painted plaster
Probably London
Given by the Trustees of the Crystal Palace in 1938
Museum no. Repro.A.1938:1-3

Original
Polychrome stone
France
Fontevrault Abbey, Anjou [21/06/2018]

Materials

Plaster; Paint

Techniques

Casting; Painting

Subjects depicted

Tombs; Sepulchral monuments

Categories

Sculpture; Royalty; Plaster Cast; Copies; Cast Courts

Production Type

Copy

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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