Copy of the Perseus Fountain thumbnail 1
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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 the Perseus Fountain

ca. 1867 (made), ca. 1590 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Hubert Gerhard cast an elaborate bronze fountain for the palace of the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. The fountain was decorated with a figure of the mythological hero, Perseus, presenting the severed head of Medusa. Gerhard was originally from the Netherlands, but trained in Italy under the sculptor Giambologna. He tailored his fluid yet monumental style to suit the tastes of courtly patrons. This cast was made in sections, built around an internal metal armature. You can still see the pins in Medusa’s shoulder where a join was made.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster cast of the Perseus Fountain made by S.N. Mark of Munich in about 1867. The original was made by Hubert Gerhard in about 1590.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of the Perseus Fountain depicting the mythological hero Perseus presenting the severed head of Medusa.
Dimensions
  • Height: 361cm
  • Basin diameter: 165.5cm
Production typeCopy
Gallery Label
  • Cast of Hubert Gerhard (about 1550–1623) The Perseus Fountain About 1590 Hubert Gerhard cast an elaborate bronze fountain for the palace of the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. The fountain was decorated with a figure of the mythological hero, Perseus, presenting the severed head of Medusa. Gerhard was originally from the Netherlands, but trained in Italy under the sculptor Giambologna. He tailored his fluid yet monumental style to suit the tastes of courtly patrons. This cast was made in sections, built around an internal metal armature. You can still see the pins in Medusa’s shoulder where a join was made. Cast S.N. Mark of Munich About 1867 Painted plaster Germany Museum no. Repro.1867-5 Original Cast bronze Munich Residenz, Munich Conservation supported by The Leche Trust(21/06/2018)
  • The great mannerist sculptor Hubert Gerhard (c.1550- c.1623) cast the elaborate Perseus fountain in bronze for the Grotto Courtyard (Grottenhof) at the Residenz in Munich in about 1590. The mythological hero Perseus holds aloft the severed head of the gorgon Medusa. The courtyard was part of a great building programme at the Residenz for the Duke of Bavaria, William V. Gerhard was originally from the Netherlands, but trained in Italy under Giambologna, and subsequently worked in Prague, Munich and elsewhere. His fluid yet monumental style was especially attuned for patrons at court. Gerhard must have been inspired by the famous statue of the same subject by Benvenuto Cellini in Florence, also cast in bronze, dating from 1545. The plaster reproduction of the fountain at the V&A was cast by S.N. Mark of Munich in about 1867. Holly Trusted
  • The great mannerist sculptor Hubert Gerhard (c.1550- c.1623) cast the elaborate Perseus fountain in bronze for the Grotto Courtyard (Grottenhof) at the Residenz in Munich in about 1590. The mythological hero Perseus holds aloft the severed head of the gorgon Medusa. The courtyard was part of a great building programme at the Residenz for the Duke of Bavaria, William V. Gerhard was originally from the Netherlands, but trained in Italy under Giambologna, and subsequently worked in Prague, Munich and elsewhere. His fluid yet monumental style was especially attuned for patrons at court. Gerhard must have been inspired by the famous statue of the same subject by Benvenuto Cellini in Florence, also cast in bronze, dating from 1545. The plaster reproduction of the fountain at the V&A was cast by S.N. Mark of Munich in about 1867. Holly Trusted
Object history
Copy of the Perseus Fountain in plaster made by S.N. Mark of Munich in about 1867 and purchased from S.N. Mark in 1867 for £175. The original was cast in bronze by Hubert Gerhard in Munich about 1590.
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
North Netherlandish
Subject depicted
Summary
Hubert Gerhard cast an elaborate bronze fountain for the palace of the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. The fountain was decorated with a figure of the mythological hero, Perseus, presenting the severed head of Medusa. Gerhard was originally from the Netherlands, but trained in Italy under the sculptor Giambologna. He tailored his fluid yet monumental style to suit the tastes of courtly patrons. This cast was made in sections, built around an internal metal armature. You can still see the pins in Medusa’s shoulder where a join was made.
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1867-5

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record createdJuly 12, 2000
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