Models were also commissioned by educational institutions, such as the South Kensington Museum. These enabled students who could not afford to travel to study a wide range of artistic examples. Models were first displayed alongside casts of architecture and sculpture in the Architectural Courts at the Museum, which opened in 1873.
Model of a South Indian Hindu Temple
Probably Thanjavur or Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, South India
Mid-late 19th century
Height 34 cm x width 43 cm x depth 28 cm
Museum no. IS 12-1980
Given by St Helens Arts and Libraries
Carved in the soft pith of the sola plant's stem. Pith models of temples were made in South India, and examples were exhibited at international exhibitions in 1873 and 1886. This example was owned by a Mrs Willink, who lived in Madras, and given to St Helens Museum in 1897.
Models of a mosque, palace and rice barn
Height 42 cm x width 14 cm x depth 14 cm (mosque, left), height 38 cm x width 39 cm x depth 21 cm (palace, centre), and height 27 cm x width 12 cm x depth 9 cm (rice barn, right)
Museum no. IS 451-1950
Bequeathed by Mrs E.S. Wilkinson
This set was part of a pioneering collection of South-East Asian metalwork that was acquired by R. J. Wilkinson, a former Deputy-Governor of the Straits Settlement.
Model of a shrine
Carved and incised soapstone
Height 14 cm x width 15 cm x depth 8 cm
Museum no. 160-1886
Gift of the Chinese Commissioners of the International Inventions Exhibition
Small-scale models of tombs, pagodas and memorial arches as well were typical of part of the range of soapstone items produced in late 19th century China for the domestic market and export to the West. This particular piece arrived in South Kensington as an exhibit in a series of international exhibitions held between 1883-6. Others were often bought as souvenirs.
Model of a pavilion in the Court of Lions, Alhambra
Plaster and alabaster
Height 86 cm x width 48 cm x depth 42 cm
Museum no. 927-1900
The Alhambra Palace complex was erected between 1325-1333. Various models of the palace were made in the second half of the nineteenth century, many by Don Rafael Contreras, the official Palace restorer. Interest in Moorish architecture and decorative style was stimulated by publications such as Owen Jones' Grammar of Ornament. Here a pavilion has been isolated from the palace courtyard and given a fictitious decorative back wall.