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The Impact Of Classical Plaster In Architecture

According to the current senior curator working for the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Helen Valentine, the reason why the Academy owns around 500 plaster casts for architectural purposes including small medieval heads sourced from cathedrals of England and large plaster casts originally from ancient Rome’s architectural monuments is because it is saved for the architectural students. These are the students enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools between the year 1769 and 1950s. This is a fact that surprised plasterer in Sydney who did not think that plaster casts play a great role in the students’ learning.

In order for the students to pass the enrolment process at the Royal Academy Schools, they are required to make their own architectural design invention.The rules changed in 1814 and the enrolment process added another requirement which is a plaster cast drawing of any architectural fragment.

The plaster casts were either donations to the Academy Schools or bought by the Academy itself for within a span of more than 100 years starting in the 1770. Almost all of the plaster casts originally sourced from ancient Rome which means it came from the Colosseum or from a museum such as Capitolini Museum and Vatican Museum. These places still contain many architectural fragments up until this day. The plaster casts, on the other hand, came from a number of places including the Pantheon, the Round Temple by the Tiber which is close to Rome and even the Arch of Septimius Severus.

The casts are considered to have high value in the archeological field. Some of the details found on these pieces which used to be found on the buildings are already damaged because of vandalism, weather pollution and the unending restoration efforts in the 19th century.

Majority of the plaster casts were originally from the molds way back in 1790s. Throughthe use of scaffolding, casts of the various sections of the buildings were taken like the architrave, a small part of frieze, top of a capital and even the tiniest architectural details found on ornaments. These casts are now considered treasures by architects and even plasterer in Sydney because these help preserve a part of history.

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