Copy of a Portal thumbnail 1
Copy of a Portal thumbnail 2
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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

Copy of a Portal

ca. 1892 (made), 1477-1505 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This plaster cast reproduces the lower half of the main western doors of Aix Cathedral. The decoration of the portal, with the Virgin and Christ Child at its centre, is divided in two. The lower half depicts four Old Testament male prophets and above them are 12 female prophets. The different colours of the cast reflect the varied construction materials of the original – the doors would have been made of wood and the surround stone.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast of a portal with the Virgin and Child in the centre made by Jean Pouzadoux & Sons about 1892. The original was made in Aix-en-Provence, France, 1477-1505.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of a portal with the Virgin and Child at its centre, the lower half depicting four Old Testament male prophets and above then 12 female prophets.
Dimensions
  • Height: 508.5cm
  • Width: 569.5cm
Production typeCopy
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Unknown artist Portal 1477–1505 This plaster cast reproduces the lower half of the main western doors of Aix Cathedral. The decoration of the portal, with the Virgin and Christ Child at its centre, is divided in two. The lower half depicts four Old Testament male prophets and above them are 12 female prophets. The different colours of the cast reflect the varied construction materials of the original – the doors would have been made of wood and the surround stone. Cast Jean Pouzadoux & Sons About 1892 Plaster England Museum no. Repro.1892-3 Original Stone and walnut Aix-en-Provence, France Aix Cathedral(21/06/2018)
  • The doors from the Cathedral at Aix-en-Provence, with the Virgin and Child at the centre, feature the four Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jeremiah. Above them are the twelve Sybils, pagan fortune-tellers from antiquity, honoured by medieval Christian scholars for having forecast the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. They are framed by garlands of pomegranates and acorns, bunches of grapes, symbols of the Eucharist, a lion, a dragon and other fantastic animals. This elaborate cast was bought by the Museum in 1892 for £190 16s 4d. Holly Trusted
Object history
Copy of a portal reproducing the lower half of the main western doors of Aix Cathedral, made in plaster by Jean Pouzadoux & Sons in England about 1892 and purchased from Messrs Jean Pouzadoux & Daughters in 1892 for £190 16s 4d. The original was made from stone and walnut in Aix-en-Provence, France in 1477-1505.
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
The portal was begun in 1477, and the wooden doors were executed in 1504.
Subject depicted
Summary
This plaster cast reproduces the lower half of the main western doors of Aix Cathedral. The decoration of the portal, with the Virgin and Christ Child at its centre, is divided in two. The lower half depicts four Old Testament male prophets and above them are 12 female prophets. The different colours of the cast reflect the varied construction materials of the original – the doors would have been made of wood and the surround stone.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1892-3

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record createdJune 28, 2000
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