Crouching boy

Plaster Cast
ca. 1524 (sculpted), ca. 1884 (cast)
Crouching boy thumbnail 1
Crouching boy thumbnail 2
+5
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This plaster cast was made after the marble original of the Crouching Boy by Michelangelo from 1524. The crouching boy was intended to form part of the decoration of the Medici Chapel in the New Sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. A drawing by Michelangelo in the British Museum (Wilde No.27r) shows two similar crouching figures above the entablature on the left of the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449-92). This design was never realised and the crouching boy remained unfinished in the Medici Collection, eventually passing to the Hermitage Collection in 1851. The cast was made in about 1884 by Elkington & Co in Birmingham or London.

The cast is displayed in one of the two magnificent Cast Courts at the V&A. Since they were first opened in 1873, these galleries have displayed reproductions of some of the most significant monuments of medieval and Renaissance Europe. In these galleries one can view plaster casts of sculptures from Renaissance Italy, notably some of the masterpieces produced by Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Michelangelo.
The sculptures are faithful copies of the originals. They were made in the 19th century, when the vogue for replicated works of art was at its height. Museum visitors at that time generally had little opportunity to travel abroad, and illustrated art books were costly. These superb casts could afford people a rare glimpse of the original sculptures, even if they could not visit Florence or Rome. Artists and designers then and now could likewise sketch and learn from them. The painted surfaces of these reproductions often mirror the original stone or bronze, and the casts seem convincingly monumental. But they are made of plaster, a relatively fragile material.




object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
painted plaster cast
Brief Description
Plaster Cast, painted plaster, after the marble original of the Crouching Boy, in the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, by Michelangelo, Italy (Florence), 1524, cast by Elkington & Co, Birmingham or London, ca. 1884
Physical Description
A naked boy sitting on a pedestal and crouching, while his left arm hangs between his slightly open legs, meeting the fingers of his right hand just where his right foot is placed.
Dimensions
  • Height: 55.5cm
  • Width: 40.3cm
  • Depth: 42.3cm
Gallery Label
Michelangelo made the original marble figure for the chapel he designed for the Medici family. Like so many of his works, it remained unfinished. Considered the pinnacle of Renaissance sculpture, Michelangelo’s work was widely reproduced in the 19th century for students to draw and study. This cast is one of several made from moulds taken in Russia to reproduce the highlights of the Hermitage and Kremlin collections.(2014)
Object history
Purchased from Elkington & Co in 1884 for £10.
Historical context
The crouching boy was intended to form part of the decoration of the Medici Chapel in the New Sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. A drawing by Michelangelo in the British Museum (Wilde No.27r) shows two similar crouching figures above the entablature on the left of the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449-92). This design was never realised and the crouching boy remained unfinished in the Medici Collection, eventually passing to the Hermitage Collection in 1851.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This plaster cast was made after the marble original of the Crouching Boy by Michelangelo from 1524. The crouching boy was intended to form part of the decoration of the Medici Chapel in the New Sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. A drawing by Michelangelo in the British Museum (Wilde No.27r) shows two similar crouching figures above the entablature on the left of the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent) (1449-92). This design was never realised and the crouching boy remained unfinished in the Medici Collection, eventually passing to the Hermitage Collection in 1851. The cast was made in about 1884 by Elkington & Co in Birmingham or London.



The cast is displayed in one of the two magnificent Cast Courts at the V&A. Since they were first opened in 1873, these galleries have displayed reproductions of some of the most significant monuments of medieval and Renaissance Europe. In these galleries one can view plaster casts of sculptures from Renaissance Italy, notably some of the masterpieces produced by Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Michelangelo.

The sculptures are faithful copies of the originals. They were made in the 19th century, when the vogue for replicated works of art was at its height. Museum visitors at that time generally had little opportunity to travel abroad, and illustrated art books were costly. These superb casts could afford people a rare glimpse of the original sculptures, even if they could not visit Florence or Rome. Artists and designers then and now could likewise sketch and learn from them. The painted surfaces of these reproductions often mirror the original stone or bronze, and the casts seem convincingly monumental. But they are made of plaster, a relatively fragile material.





Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1884-298

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record createdJuly 12, 2000
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