Sculpture Journal

The production and display of Domenico Brucciani's plaster cast of Hubert Le Sueur's equestrian statue of Charles I

Sculpture Journal (2014), 23, (2), 250–255.

Abstract

In 1853 the the Crystal Palace Company commissioned the formatore Domenico Giovanni Brucciani to produce a plaster mould and cast of the equestrian statue of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur, which had been cast in bronze in 1633 and installed at Charing Cross by 1675. The reproduction of the bronze statue and its later Portland stone pedestal (carved by Joshua Marshall but misattributed by some nineteenth-century sources to Grinling Gibbons) provided an intriguing public spectacle as a temporary wooden workshop was built around the sculpture at its location on a traffic island near Trafalgar Square. Both the Illustrated London News and the Lady's Newspaper published accounts of this process with textual descriptions and accompanying wood engravings of the scene inside the structure, making visible this translation in progress. The two accounts attended above all to the materiality of the procedure, particularly the sheer weight of plaster and iron required to complete the task. This essay contextualizes Brucciani's practice in the early 1850s through the manufacture and exhibition of this large and complex cast, including the ways in which it was received and interpreted in both the contemporary periodical press and contemporary guidebooks to the Crystal Palace.

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Author details

Wade, Rebecca