Plaster casts

The practice of reproducing famous sculptures in plaster originally dates back to the sixteenth century and became very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. The two plaster casts above the fireplaces in the Great Hall, the Venus de Medici and the Dancing Faun, have never been included in the Sculpture collection, having been part of the fixtures and fittings of the building at the time of the Towneley Purchase in 1902. An inventory of art at Towneley in 1861 listed an additional two casts, the Knife-grinder and group of boxers. The four casts, all the originals being in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, were a popular group in country houses in the 18th century, often displayed in gardens.

In 1905, Mr Watts of the V&A visited Towneley and submitted a list of casts for the Chapel and stated the Board of Education would probably contribute half of the £84 cost. The first example at Towneley of a government grant to support a purchase. The list still exists in the sculpture History Files. Many of the casts had been removed from display by the 1920s. Some were loaned to the local art school and were destroyed in the 1930s after they returned badly damaged.

Author: tk - August 2016