Cast collection

Room 46a – 46b

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Opened in 1873, the Cast Courts display copies of some of the world's most significant works of art reproduced in plaster, electrotype, photography, and digital media. The cast collection is famous for including reproductions of Michelangelo's David, Trajan's Column, and Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, amongst many others.

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The cast collection is a dramatic expression of Victorian ambition, and the strongest embodiment of the Museum's founding mission as a school of art education for both practitioners and the public. At a time when travel was difficult, the Courts brought copies of art and architecture from around the globe together under one roof, offering an encyclopaedia of international decorative styles. Collecting reproductions reached the height of popularity in the mid to late 19th century, and today new methods of digital replication encourage ongoing explorations into copying in the 21st century.

Collection Highlights

plaster cast
(Detail) Tomb of St Peter Martyr, plaster cast, by Edoardo Pierotti, 1869, Milan, Italy
plaster cast of Trajan's Column
(Detail) Trajan's column, plaster cast, by Monsieur Oudry, about 1864, Paris, France
plaster cast
(Detail) Window frame, plaster cast, by Pietro Pierotti, about 1867, Milan, Italy
Plaster cast of a tabernacle
(Detail) Copy of a tabernacle, plaster cast, about 1876, Belgium
plaster cast
The Nymph of Fontainebleau, plaster cast, by Monsieur Desachy, about 1864, Paris, France
copy of the Pórtico de la Gloria
(Detail) The Portico de la Gloria, plaster cast, by Domenico Brucciani, 1866, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Battle scene, plaster cast, sculpted by Gian Cristoforo Romano, made by Edoardo Pierotti, 1491 – 1497 (sculpted), about 1884 (cast), Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1884-669. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
plaster cast of a Capital
Copy of a capital, plaster cast, made by Philibert De L'Orme and Musee des Arts Decoratifs, 1884, Paris, France
copy of a Portal
(Detail) Copy of a portal, plaster cast, by Jean Pouzadoux, about 1892, England
copy of an Effigy
(Detail) Effigy of Berengaria of Navarre, plaster cast, 1852 – 54, England
copy of a Doorway
(Detail) Copy of a doorway, plaster cast, about 1882, Norway
copy of a Tympanum
Copy of a tympanum, plaster cast, about 1852 – 54, England
copy of a Monument to Rudolph von Scherenberg
Copy of a Monument to Prince-Bishop Rudolph von Scherenberg, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, plaster cast, by Josef Semmelmayr, about 1906, Würzburg, Germany
plaster cast
David, plaster cast, by Clemente Papi, about 1856, Florence, Italy

Features

Background image: Battle scene, plaster cast, sculpted by Gian Cristoforo Romano, made by Edoardo Pierotti, 1491 – 1497 (sculpted), about 1884 (cast), Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1884-669. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London