The Gherardini collection of terracottas and wax sculptural sketches was acquired by Her Majesty’s Government for display in the Museum in 1854.
The Gherardini were an ancient Florentine family. The collection had been long forgotten but upon its rediscovery, Signor Gherardini offered it to the Tuscan Government, which declined to purchase it on account of the high price placed upon it by the vendor. On the advice of Prince Poniatowski, Gherardini offered it for sale to the French Government, which declined to purchase the models 'for reasons of economy'. After being exhibited for four weeks at Marlborough House 'with a view of eliciting from the public and the artists of this country such an expression of opinion, as to their value and authenticity, as will justify the purchase', this collection of 30 terracotta and wax sculptors’ models, 12 of which were attributed to Michaelangelo at the time, was bought by the Government for £2,110 in March 1854.
Information in the V&A Archive
MA/30/15 & 16: Central Inventory registers, museum object numbers 4102 to 4136-1854
ED 84/35: Precis minutes of the Department of Science and Art, vol. 1, 1852-1864
Second Report of the Department of Science and Art. London: George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for HMSO, 1855
Henry Cole: diaries: typed transcripts, 1822-1882
Selected printed works
Catalogue of a collection of models in wax and terra cotta by various Italian masters known as the Gherardini collection: now being exhibited at the Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House, March 1854. London: HMSO, 1854. NAL pressmark: VA.1854.Box.0002
Hennessey, J. Pope, ‘The Gherardini Collection of Italian Sculpture.’ Victoria and Albert Museum Yearbook 2 (1970): 7-26. NAL pressmark: PP.8.O
Davies, Helen. ‘John Charles Robinson’s work at the South Kensington Museum Part 1.’ Journal of the History of Collections 10 no. 2 (1998): 166-88. NAL pressmark: PP.69.E
Wainwright, Clive. ‘The making of the South Kensington Museum III.’ Journal of the History of Collections 14, no.1 (2002): 45-61. NAL pressmark: PP.69.E
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