UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

The Conservation of Plaster Casts in the Nineteenth Century

Payne, EM; (2020) The Conservation of Plaster Casts in the Nineteenth Century. Studies in Conservation , 65 (1) pp. 37-58. 10.1080/00393630.2019.1610845. Green open access

[thumbnail of PayneAccepted MS.pdf]
Preview
Text
PayneAccepted MS.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (5MB) | Preview

Abstract

Plaster casts of ancient sculpture were widely collected by universities and museums through the nineteenth century. One of the intended functions of these casts was to preserve accurate 3D records of the sculptures, many of which were in remote locations around the world, often vulnerable to damage from weathering and vandalism. Gypsum plaster makes excellent casts, capturing fine surface details; however, it is also soft, porous, and easily damaged. This paper draws upon historical archives and patents to reveal the considerable efforts made during this period to create new techniques, recipes, and equipment to try to protect the casts. Case studies are selected primarily from the collection of casts put together by Walter Copland Perry in the 1880s, originally for the South Kensington Museum but transferred in 1907 to the British Museum. Samples were taken from a number of these casts and examined using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy. These results, combined with archival evidence, demonstrate that protective coatings were carefully applied in thin coatings to many of the casts. Barium appears to have played an important part in these protective treatments and further testing is recommended to evaluate the precise nature of its role. These treatments successfully protected the delicate surfaces of the casts for many years. However, later neglect means that these casts now suffer from a range of other threats to their condition.

Type: Article
Title: The Conservation of Plaster Casts in the Nineteenth Century
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2019.1610845
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/00393630.2019.1610845
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Plaster casts; conservation; surface coatings; nineteenth century; British Museum; South Kensington Museum; Walter Copland Perry
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077875
Downloads since deposit
578Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item