Copy of a Font thumbnail 1
Copy of a Font thumbnail 2
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 Font

ca. 1885 (made), 1000-1100 (made)
Place Of Origin

This is one of several Scandinavian plaster casts acquired by the Museum from Sweden in the 1880s. Some of these forms inspired British 19th-century furniture and interior design. The original font dates from the 12th century. Carvings of human faces and animal heads surround the base of the font. Tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaves decorate the bowl.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast of a font with carvings of human faces, animal heads, tendrils, grapes and leaves made in Stockholm about 1885. The original was made in 1000-1100.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of a font depicting carvings of human faces and animal heads surrounding the base of the font and tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaves decorating the bowl.
Dimensions
  • Height: 91.5cm
  • Diameter: 77.5cm
Production typeCopy
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Unknown artist Font 1000–1100 This is one of several Scandinavian plaster casts acquired by the Museum from Sweden in the 1880s. Some of these forms inspired British 19th-century furniture and interior design. The original font dates from the 12th century. Carvings of human faces and animal heads surround the base of the font. Tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaves decorate the bowl. Cast About 1885 Painted plaster Stockholm Purchased from the National Museum, Stockholm in 1885 Museum no. Repro.1885-202 Original Stone The church of Bara, Skåne, Sweden National Museum, Stockholm(21/06/2018)
  • This cast reproduces a medieval stone font originally from a church in Bara, Skåne, in Sweden. Around the base are bearded human heads and animal heads, while tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaf ornament adorn the bowl. The original dates from the 12th century. One of several Scandinavian plaster casts acquired by the Museum from Sweden in the 1880s, it illustrates the strong contemporary interest in medieval Scandinavian art. Some of these forms inspired 19th-century furniture and interior design. Holly Trusted
Object history
Cast of a font depicting human faces, animal heads, tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaves made in plaster in Stockholm about 1885 and purchased from the National Museum, Stockholm in 1885 for £6 17s. The original was made in Sweden in 1000-1100 and is from the church of Bara, Skåne, Sweden.
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
This is one of several Scandinavian plaster casts acquired by the Museum from Sweden in the 1880s. Some of these forms inspired British 19th-century furniture and interior design. The original font dates from the 12th century. Carvings of human faces and animal heads surround the base of the font. Tendrils, bunches of grapes and leaves decorate the bowl.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1885-202

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record createdJuly 10, 2000
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