An English relief cast acanthus leaf,
the naturalistic scrolled frond cast in deep relief,
Domenico Brucciani 1815-1880 was born in Lucca (now in Italy), moved to London as a young man and by at least 1837, with a Gallery of Casts in Covent Garden, became a revered formatore – plaster-caster. His business built up special links with both the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum (later named The V&A).
His most substantial commission for the South Kensington Museum was the casting of the Pórtico de la Gloria, the 12th-century façade of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, in 1866. This followed the agreement, forged by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, at the Paris Exposition of the previous year, signed by all the Crowned Princes of Europe to further the common man’s experience of sculpture in-the-round by the reciprocal casting of great European sculpture. What followed was the Cast Courts and Brucciani was foremost among the formatore.
He taught sculpture, moulding and casting at the Royal College of Art (including National Art Training School) 1853 – 1861.
The company, with workshops in Clerkenwell, survived its founder. The casting of priceless sculpture was being frowned upon by the turn of the century – the common man could now use the train – and the company faltered. In the 1920’s it was eventually subsumed by the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Peter Hone is himself a celebrated Master Plaster Caster with his workshop here at LASSCO Three Pigeons. He is an expert on and collector of Coade stone and offers his plaster casts in his own version of Coade stone: “Hone Stone” (add 25% to the plaster price) which is durable for exterior contexts.