News: new research on historical sources for materials and techniques for coating nineteenth-century plaster casts

Left. Letter from the Archive of the Museo dell’Arte Classica (Museo dei Gessi) at University of Sapienza, Rome (Italy) written by Enrico Cantoni (c. 1859-1923) to Professor Emanuel Löwy (1857-1938). Right. Plaster casts of a lead Statuette figure of a seated girl (A.2-1946) made in the Sculpture Conservation Studio at the V&A to illustrate how the different coatings were used to deceive the observer. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London/as specified by the rights holder.

As I approached the study of the nineteenth-century plaster casts of the V&A collection, I realised how fragmentary and undetailed is the technical information on the plaster casts manufacturing during the Victorian era, as well as its contemporary review. After spending quite a relevant amount of time reviewing manuals and recipes books, I figured I could spare the effort to the student, researcher and conservator approaching the study of the materials available in the plasterer workshop by reviewing the historical technical literature. This paper therefore offers a summary of historical techniques and materials used to produce plaster casts and to treat their surfaces by reviewing a selection of manuals, treatises, and recipe books on the art of the cast makers as well as a selection of patents related to the manufacturing of casts and the coating of their surfaces. Valentina Risdonne, Heritage Scientist, CDP AHRC PhD candidate at Northumbria University and Victoria and Albert Museum

Thank you, Valentina! We can all read more about your important research in this co-authored open-access paper. published 17 January 2021

  • Valentina Risdonne, Charlotte Hubbard, Victor Hugo López Borges & Charis Theodorakopoulos (2021) Materials and Techniques for the Coating of Nineteenth-century Plaster Casts: A Review of Historical Sources, Studies in Conservation, DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2020.1864896

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