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Gallery 46a: Cast Courts

Cast Courts, room 46a

Towering over the other sculptures in Gallery 46a are the impressive plaster casts of Trajan’s Column. The column is shown in two halves, and many of the 1st-century reliefs can be studied more easily than on the original in Rome. The plaster reliefs, mounted on brick cores, were cast in the 1860s; the definition of many of the scenes is clearer than on the marble column, since they have been protected from later pollution and weathering.

Another of the great monuments in this gallery is the cast of the 12th-century Pórtico de la Gloria from the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This was made by an Italian plaster cast specialist, Domenico Brucciani, in 1867, when he and his team went to Santiago, having been commissioned to cast the portal for the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). It spans the width of Gallery 46a, and indeed the dimensions of the Court, which was opened in 1873, may have been determined by its size, just as its height is likely to have been dictated by the size of Trajan’s Column.

Many other magnificent casts are to be seen in this gallery, including medieval reliefs from Spain, some extraordinary Celtic crosses, and major French and German renaissance sculptures, such as a splendid 16th-century tomb by Peter Vischer from Nuremberg and figures and reliefs by the South German sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider, as well as works by the French artist Jean Goujon.

Gallery 46a is on Level 1 of the V&A South Kensington

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