Copy of a Tympanum

ca. 1852-1854 (made), ca. 1140 (made)
Copy of a Tympanum thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, The Ruddock Family Cast Court, Room 46A
Place Of Origin

Christ is shown here surrounded by four angels. The original tympanum (a semi-circular space above a door) was part of Shobdon Church, which was demolished in the 18th century. Its two doorways were re-erected in Shobdon Park as a folly – an outdoor ornamental ‘ruin’. This copy was made from the folly in the 1850s. It was slightly embellished by the caster, as the original carving was badly weathered by then.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast of a Tympanum depicting Christ surrounded by four angels, made in London about 1852-54. The original was made in about 1140.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of the tympanum depicting Christ surrounded by four angels, from the church at Shobdon (Herefordshire).
Dimensions
  • Width: 165cm
Production typeCopy
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Unknown artist Tympanum About 1140 Christ is shown here surrounded by four angels. The original tympanum (a semi-circular space above a door) was part of Shobdon Church, which was demolished in the 18th century. Its two doorways were re-erected in Shobdon Park as a folly – an outdoor ornamental ‘ruin’. This copy was made from the folly in the 1850s. It was slightly embellished by the caster, as the original carving was badly weathered by then. Cast About 1852–54 Painted plaster London Given by the Trustees of the Crystal Palace in 1938 Museum no. Repro.A.1938-16 Original Stone Shobdon Parish Church, Herefordshire(21/06/2018)
  • The tympanum shows Christ seated in majesty in a mandorla supported by four angels. Shobdon Church was demolished in the 18th century and its two doorways with their tympana and the chancel arch were re-erected in Shobdon Park as a folly. These decayed from weathering, and this plaster cast, made in the 1850s for the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, was slightly worked up by the caster, hence its surprisingly modern appearance. Holly Trusted
Credit line
Given by the Trustees of Crystal Palace
Object history
Cast of a tympanum depicting Christ surrounded by four angels, made in plaster in London about 1852-54 and given by the Trustees of Crystal Palace in 1938. The original was made in stone about 1140 and was part of Shobdon Parish Church, which was demolished in the 18th century. Its two doorways with their tympana and the chancel arch were re-erected in Shobdon Park as a folly and are now decayed from weathering. The plaster cast, made in the 1850s for the Crystal Palace, was slightly embellished by the caster due to the weathering.
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.
Subject depicted
Summary
Christ is shown here surrounded by four angels. The original tympanum (a semi-circular space above a door) was part of Shobdon Church, which was demolished in the 18th century. Its two doorways were re-erected in Shobdon Park as a folly – an outdoor ornamental ‘ruin’. This copy was made from the folly in the 1850s. It was slightly embellished by the caster, as the original carving was badly weathered by then.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.A.1938-16

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record createdJune 27, 2000
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