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.

Exploring Cast collection

Photo of Plaster cast of Michelangelo's 'David' by Clemente Papi, 1856, Florence, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1857-161. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plaster cast of Michelangelo's 'David' by Clemente Papi, 1856, Florence, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1857-161. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Tomb of St Peter Martyr (detail), Edoardo Pierotti, about 1869, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1869-68. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Tomb of St Peter Martyr (detail), Edoardo Pierotti, about 1869, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1869-68. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Plaster cast of Trajan's column (detail), Monsieur Oudry, about 1864, Paris, France. Museum no. REPRO.1864-128. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plaster cast of Trajan's column (detail), Monsieur Oudry, about 1864, Paris, France. Museum no. REPRO.1864-128. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Plaster cast of a window frame, Pietro Pierotti, about 1867, Milan, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1867-39. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plaster cast of a window frame, Pietro Pierotti, about 1867, Milan, Italy. Museum no. REPRO.1867-39. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Plaster cast of a tabernacle from the Church of St. Leonard (detail), about 1876. Museum no. REPRO.1876-104. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plaster cast of a tabernacle from the Church of St. Leonard (detail), about 1876. Museum no. REPRO.1876-104. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Plaster cast of The Nymph of Fontainebleau, Monsieur Desachy, about 1864, Paris, France. Museum no. REPRO.1864:2 to 4-104. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plaster cast of The Nymph of Fontainebleau, Monsieur Desachy, about 1864, Paris, France. Museum no. REPRO.1864:2 to 4-104. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Cast collection

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