Cast Courts

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by Glorie
Last updated 6 years ago

Arts & Music
Museums and Galleries

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Cast Courts

The Victoria and Albert Museum London has a couple of rooms which are now unique due to the fact that other museums around the world that also displayed similar objects have since disappeared. These are the Architectural Courts or Cast courts.They never fail to amaze and delight visitors. When the Cast courts opened in October 1873, the builder compared the experience of seeing them for the first time with a first glimpse of Mont Blanc, creating one of those 'impressions that can scarcely be effaced'. Since that date these two enormous rooms and the plaster casts they contain have continued to impress the Museum's visitors.The collection is divided into casts of Northern European and Spanish sculpture and Trajan's column in the west court and casts of Italian monuments in the east. Reproduction of all types - casts, electrotypes, photographs and copy drawings - formed a substantial and highly-regarded part of the Museum's early collections. The V&A's collection is a unique example of a remarkable 19th century phenomenon. Even in the 1870s it was apparently the largest and most comprehensive collection of casts of post-classical European sculpture.

Cast Courts

Taking plaster casts of ancient monuments was very popular during the 1900's, and this is why the V&A has such an impressive collection. They mainly come from Europe and were made by some of the best craftsmen of the period.The idea behind these casts was to allow people to see great works of art from faraway places, that they were not able to visit themselves.

One of the rooms is dominated by two huge columns; these are casts of Trajan's Column which was erected in Rome in AD113.The original column was 38 meter high and was made from Marble. All the way up the column there are rich carvings which depict all the battles which were fought by Trajan during his reign.The cast of the column is displayed in two parts due to its height. However, this does allow for closer inspection of the intricate carvings on them.

The other room includes reproductions of various works of Italian Renaissance sculpture and architecture, including a full-size replica of Michelangelo's David. Replicas of two earlier Davids by Donatello's David and Verrocchio's David, are also included, although for conservation reasons the Verrocchio replica is displayed in a glass case.

It looks so real, and one can only assume that the casts were taken in very small pieces and then the pieces were fitted together, although no one can see the join!

Cross (plaster cast 1903), Early 10th century from Ireland.Various scenes are carved on the cross including scenes from the Old and New Testaments and Signs of the Zodiac amongst others.It is painted black to closely replicate how the original cross would appear.

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