British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - F
An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2022. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected]
Added March 2020
Giovacchino Fazi, Taunton 1851-c.1860, Plymouth c.1861-1882. Modeller and sculptor.
Giovacchino Fazi (d.1882) was born in Italy c.1815-1833. His arrival in Britain is not recorded but a Francesco Fazi, possibly a relative, arrived at Dover from France in 1840 in a group of seven figure makers from Italy. Giovacchino Fazi married Rosina Clouter (b.1841) in Plymouth at the Roman Catholic cathedral in 1865. He died in Plymouth in 1882, age recorded as 49, and his wife Rosina died age 42 in 1884. This entry is entirely based on research by Barbara Bryant, Osmond Bullock, Kieran Owens, Jacinto Regalado, Andrew Shore and various individuals, which can be found with links to source material on ArtUK at www.artuk.org/artdetective/discussions/discussions/is-j-fazi-the-italian-sculptor-giovacchino-fazi/group/sculpture.
In census records, his Christian name variously spelt, Fazi can be found in Taunton in 1851 as a modeller, age 36, and thereafter in Plymouth, in 1861 age 45, in 1871 age 45 with his wife and two young daughters and in 1881 age 50 with his wife, a daughter and son. His age as given in the census would imply that he was born between 1815 and 1831.
Fazi was listed in Taunton in Slater's Directory in 1852 as a modeller and sculptor. He advertised as a modeller and sculptor in Taunton in 1855 as having just completed a small statuette of the late Eales White, price 10s (Taunton Courier 4 July 1855). In 1860, as Giachomo Fazi, he was summoned for failing to pay the poor rate in Taunton.
Fazi would appear to have moved to Plymouth by 1861, when he can be found in census records. He appears as a sculptor in Kelly's directory for Plymouth for 1866.
Works in plaster: A few signed or documented works are known. His plaster bust of the musician, William Crotch, is inscribed: W. CROTCH MUS. DOC. OXON/ AGED 72/ MODELLED BY J. FAZI TAUNTON 1853. Another plaster bust of Crotch can be found at Christ Church, Oxford (Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, catalogue, 1973, p.123).
Other works by him include the statuette of the Eales White, 1855, referred to above, a group of Guardian Angels (Taunton Courier 26 March 1856) and a small Grecian ‘tazzi’, executed in Minehead alabaster (Taunton Courier 11 March 1857), according to research on ArtUK.
There were two distinct Fiorini foundries, the one operated by the father, Giovanni Fiorini (b. c.1876), in the 1910s and 1920s, and the other by his son, Remo (1915-97), from about 1950 (see below). Both foundries involved other partners.
Giovanni Fiorini apparently opened his foundry in Winders Road, Battersea in 1909 and continued in one business arrangement or another until 1929. John Galizia (qv) described himself as head foreman at an art bronze foundry, presumably Fiorini’s, when living in Battersea in 1926 (London Gazette 11 May 1926). He is said to have entered into a brief partnership with Fiorini (Penny 1992 p.36), perhaps in 1929, before setting up independently.
Giovanni Fiorini can be found in the 1911 census in Battersea as an artist bronze founder and employer, age 34, born in Rome, with his wife Anna, age 40, born in Italy, married 10 years but without children, and a border, Luigi Angeloni, artist bronze founder, age 39, born Italy. He should not be confused with a Giovanni Fiorini who died in 1919, age 45, in the Marylebone district. Our Giovanni Fiorini remarried in 1915, to Lilian M. Warren (c.1888-1956) in the Wandsworth district and had children, Stella in 1913, Reno or Remo in 1915, Romolo in 1916, Ecole C. in 1920 and apparently Stella M. in 1938.
Works in bronze:Examples of the foundry’s work include Arthur George Walker’s statue, Florence Nightingale, 1915 (Waterloo Place, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.401) and his Sevenoaks First World War Memorial, with statue and two reliefs, marked: G. FIORINI. FOUNDER (Sevenoaks, Kent). In 1912, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska identified Jacob Epstein’s founder as ‘an Italian in Battersea called Fiorini whose charges are less than Parlanti’ (Roger Cole, Burning to Speak: The life and art of Henri Gaudier Brzeska,1978, p.25). In 1920, Fiorini was promised by Clare Sheridan that he should make second casts of her heads, Lev Kamenev and Leonid Krassin, following his great disappointment that Parlanti had been given the initial commission (Clare Sheridan, Mayfair to Moscow: Clare Sheridan's Diary, New York, 1921, pp.47-8).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated March 2020
Fiorini Art Bronze Foundry 1951-1956, R. Fiorini & J. Carney 1956-1983, Fiorini Ltd from 1984 to 2014 or later. At 12A Michael Road, London SW6 1952-1959, 7 Peterborough Mews, London SW6 3BL from 1961 to 2014 or later. Art bronze founders.
There were two distinct Fiorini foundries, the one operated by the father, Giovanni Fiorini, in the 1910s and 1920s (see above), and the other by the son, Remo (1915-97) from about 1950. The Fiorini Art Bronze Foundry was recorded at 12A Michael Road in Hammersmith in the 1952 Post Office directory, and may perhaps have been in business a few years earlier if the Cire Perdue Foundry, art bronze founders, at this address in 1951, can be connected with Remo Fiorini. The Tate Gallery used the Cire Perdue Foundry, 1949-50, and Fiorini, 1951- 52, for restoration and casting work, including casting Auguste Rodin’s The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone for £25 in 1950 (National Gallery archive, NG13/1/14).
By 1956, Fiorini had gone into partnership with John Carney, advertising as ‘Specialists in all Fine Art Casting in both metal & plaster’ (Society of Portrait Sculptors, 4th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 1956). The sculptor, Ivor Abrahams, was apprenticed at the foundry the following year (see www.ivorabrahams.com). When Duncan James visited the foundry in about 1970, as part of a series of visits to bronze foundries, he described Fiorini as finishing casts and the man who usually set the price for a job, while Carney was a wax moulder who had previously been a foreman for some years at the nearby Art Bronze Foundry (qv) (James 1971 pp.71, 87, reproducing a photograph of Fiorini in the wax shop; the business advertised in the same issue of Art Review as R. Fiorini & J. Carney, art bronze founders, fine art casting, at 7 & 10 Peterborough Mews).
Remo Fiorini was still active at the age of 80 in 1995 when the business was still described as ‘Fine Art Casting’ (National Portrait Gallery records, RP 6389, letter from Fiorini). In the next generation of the family both Kevin Fiorini and John Fiorini have been active. In 2007, Kevin Fiorini at Fiorini Ltd was advertising over 100 years of family casting history (Society of Portrait Sculptors, 44th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 2007, p.93). As a young man, John Fiorini is reported to have assisted Leon Underwood in casting his own sculptures (Ben Whitworth, The Sculpture of Leon Underwood, 2000, p.82).
A Petition by HMRC in September 2013 to wind up the business was dismissed (London Gazette 12 March 2014). As at January 2020 a successor business, Fiorini Foundry, is operating from Units 11-21, Sullivan Enterprise Centre, Sullivan Road, London SW6 3DJ, see www.fiorinifoundry.com.
Works in bronze: The foundry has worked for various leading sculptors, including Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, Bernard Meadows and Leon Underwood.
Henry Moore was an early user. Indeed, if as has been suggested the foundry was responsible for his statue, Family Group, 1948-9, made for Barclay School, Stevenage, this would be the earliest record of the foundry's work. The sculptor wrote to a friend in 1951, ‘The group was really too big for them to handle and they had lots of difficulties, in fact they took a whole year to do it, with a great deal of worry over it to me. That is why we are having the other casts made by Rudier in Paris’ (Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, 2002, p.274). Of these early years Moore’s assistant from 1951 to 1953, Anthony Caro, recalled, ‘I had this little open Morris car and I’d go into London with the back of the car full of Henry Moore waxes. I’d take them to the bronze foundries – Gaskin (The Art Bronze Foundry) or Fiorini and bring them back for him to check.’ (Mitchinson 1998 p.241).
Works by Moore in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation produced by Fiorini’s include the following (editions of 9+1 unless stated, dating and catalogue number from Mitchinson 1998). From the 1950s and 1960s, Draped Reclining Figure, 1952-3, edition of 3+1 (no.168), Wall Relief: Maquette No.1, 1955, edition of 12+1 (no.173), Upright Motive: Maquette No.1, 1955, edition of 10+1 (no.174), Animal Head, 1955, edition of 10+1 (no.178), Divided Head, 1963 (no.201), Helmet Head No.4: Interior-Exterior, 1963, edition of 6+2 (no.202) and Maquette for Square Form with Cut, 1969 (no.221). From the 1970s and 1980s, Working Model for Stone Memorial, 1971 (no.198), Maquette for Atom Piece, 1964, cast 1970, edition of 12+1 (no.206), Stringed Relief, 1937, cast 1976, edition of 2+1 (no.93), Mother and Child: Arms, 1980 (no.247), Three Quarter Figure: Lines, 1980 (no.270), Working Model for Seated Woman with Arms Outstretched, 1984 (no.192), Two Three-Quarter Figures on Base, 1984 (no.209), Horse, 1984 (no.264), Head, 1984 (no.278) and Mother with Child on Lap, 1985 (no.277). Elsewhere, the small figure, Draped Seated Figure against a Curved Wall, 1956-7, no.4 of edition of 12+1 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).
According to Eduardo Paolozzi, he used Fiorini’s quite a lot in his earlier years (Robin Spencer (ed.), Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews, 2000, p.329). Examples include Shattered Head, 1956, cast by Fiorini & Carney (Tate, see Mary Chamot et al., Tate Gallery Catalogues. The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, 1964, p.504) and Chinese Dog 2, 1958 (Peggy Guggenheim Coll., Venice, see Spencer, p.80).
Another of Henry Moore's assistants, Bernard Meadows, used Fiorini to cast some of his own work (Alan Bowness, Bernard Meadows: Sculpture and Drawings, 1995, p.18), including Black Crab, 1951-2, and Crab, 1952 (Tate, see The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, p.529).
F.E. McWilliam had Woman Seated, 1948, cast by Fiorini, and after 1956 when the business became Fiorini & Carney numerous other works, which are entered under ‘Carney’, 1957-75, and under ‘Fiorini’, 1978-81 in the McWilliam catalogue (see below). These range in date from Cain and Abel VII in 1957 to Ms Orissa in 1981. For fuller details, see Ferran 2012 nos 57, 88, 474, etc.
John Skeaping used Fiorini & Carney as the first in a succession of foundries to cast his later work: Fiorini & Carney c.1962-4, John Galizia (qv) c.1965-70, Meridian Bronze (qv) c.1970-6 and Wally Livingstone (qv) c.1977-8 (see A Retrospective Exhibition of Bronze Sculptures by John Skeaping, R.A., exh. cat., Arthur Ackermann & Son Ltd, 1979). Elizabeth Frink used Fiorini, 1961-70 (Ratuszniak 2013 p.192).
Many of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s works were cast in editions by Fiorini, 1964-70, for H.S. Ede of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, usually in bronze (Silber 1996 nos 31, 44, 55, 58, 64, 81, 90, 96-7, 100, 103), including Ornamental Mask, 1912, cast 1969-70; Head of a Young Man, 1913, cast in artificial stone by 1964; Mermaid, 1913, cast 1964-6; The Dancer, 1913, cast 1966-7; Maternity, 1913, cast 1960s; Doorknocker, 1914, cast by 1964; Duck, 1914, cast 1964-8 (a cast in lead on behalf of Ede); Dog (Dachshund), 1914, cast by 1964; Bird Swallowing a Fish, 1914, cast 1964; Maquette for Flower Vase 2, 1914, cast 1964; and Monkeys, 1914, cast in composite stone, 1964-8. Examples of many of these works are in the collections at Tate and Kettle's Yard (see The Tate Gallery 1982-1984: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, 1986, p.168).
Other examples of the foundry’s work from the 1950s include Alberto Giacometti’s Femme qui marche, 1932-3/36, cast 1955 or later, edition of 4 (source: Tate website, example in Boston Museum of Fine Arts), David McFall’s head, Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1956, cast 1958 (National Portrait Gallery) and Jacob Epstein’s Self-portrait, head, 1917, cast 1959 (National Portrait Gallery).
From the 1960s, Leon Underwood's The Pursuit of Ideas, 1960 (Hillgrove Estate, Finchley Road, see Ben Whitworth, The Sculpture of Leon Underwood, 2000, p.98) and Kenneth Armitage’s Pandarus (version 8), 1963 (Tate, see Tate Papers, no.2, 2004, available online). In 1966 Fiorini & Carney apologised to Paule Vezelay that they could not cast the pieces she wanted and suggested a sand-casting foundry (Tate archive, TGA 20002/1/1/1207).
From the 1980s and 1990s, David McFall’s The Son of Man: Standing Christ, 1988 (Canterbury Cathedral) and Glynn Williams’ statuette, Mother and Child, conceived 1991 (Christie’s 22 October 1997 lot 132).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, see Museum of Classical Archaeology; see also Domenico Brucciani
Updated March 2019, March 2021
John Flaxman, York to 1755, London from 1755, New St, Covent Garden 1767-1772, King St, Covent Garden 1773-1775, 420 Strand 1776-1803. Figure maker and statuary.
John Flaxman the elder (1726-1803), father of the celebrated sculptor, was a figure maker and statuary. He has been studied by Timothy Clifford (Clifford 1992 pp.53-4) and by Greg Sullivan (Roscoe 2009) and he is not treated here in depth. He moved from York to London in 1755, producing two trade cards, both as ‘Flaxman, Figure maker’, the earlier from King St, the later from 67 Strand, opposite Durham St (Heal coll., 106.12-13).
Flaxman billed the Earl of Lauderdale for seven busts in 1765-6 (Earls of Lauderdale, NRAS832/5/8). Flaxman’s work for Matthew Boulton in 1770 and for Wedgwood & Bentley in 1775 is described elsewhere (Clifford 1992 pp.53-4). Flaxman was used by George Romney as early as 1770 and as late as 1798 (Alex Kidson, ‘The Letters of George Romney’, Transactions of the Romney Society, vol.22, 2017, 87). Flaxman was named by the Norwich carver and gilder, Benjamin Jagger, as a possible source for a medallion to crown a chimney glass frame, in a letter of c.1784 to Jeremiah Freeman, who was then working in London as a journeyman for Thomas Allwood: ‘I want a medallion for top of chimney glass [frame]... of some historicil subject, no naked figures. I think Crashlay [q.v.] near James St Long Acre can find[?] you cheeper than Flaxmen opposite the Adelphi.’ (Norwich Castle Museum, art dept archives, Freeman MSS, item 2).
Flaxman was paid by Sir John Soane in 1790 for two lions at £1.10s and two pair of vases at £5.5s (Sir John Soane’s Museum Archive, journal no.1, opening 178). He supplied casts to his son, also John Flaxman, 1795-6 (British Library, Add. MS 39784CC, ff.8r-9v, kindly drawn to my attention by Eckart Marchand). He was paid by George, 3rd Earl of Egremont for models for drawing, 1798-9, and models, 1800 (West Sussex Record Office, PHA/7556, 7558). Flaxman was the first of several figure makers to whom the watercolourist, John Samuel Hayward, turned for plaster casts; in May 1800 Flaxman billed him for a Laocoon and Sons at £1.11s.6d as part of a larger order totalling £7.2s.6d (summary listing by Robert Barnes from bills for casts supplied to Hayward, V&A National Art Library, MSL/1943/920C).
In his will, made 17 September 1794 and proved 9 April 1803, John Flaxman, figure maker of St Martin-in-the-Fields, made bequests to his family. A few months after his death, his stock-in-trade of plaster casts, figures, busts, vases, basso relievos, etc, together with a few prints and pictures and some shop fixtures, were advertised for sale by auction (Morning Chronicle 10 June 1803). James De Ville (qv) made purchases at this sale.
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated August 2019
Flaxman Gallery, University College, London.
The history of institutional plaster cast collections lies outside the scope of this online resource, but for the Flaxman Gallery see Eckart Marchand, 'The Flaxman Gallery at University College London and its History', in David Bindman (ed.), John Flaxman 1755-1826: Master of the Purest Line, 2003, pp.36-43 (here cited as Marchand 2003); see also the Flaxman Gallery dossier in UCL Art Museum, Strang Print Room, compiled by Eckart Marchand (drawn to my attention by Andrea Fredericksen). See also Eckart Marchand’s more recent article, 'The Flaxman Gallery and the role of plaster casts in the workshop of John Flaxman 1755-1826’, in Mario Guderzo and Tomas Lochman, Il Valore del Gesso: come modello, calco, copia per la realizzazione della scultura, 2017, pp.309-20.
There were campaigns to repair Flaxman’s models more or less once a generation, starting soon after the gift of the collection in 1847. In 1849 the Flaxman Gallery committee decided to approach the sculptor William Behnes concerning repairs to a few sculptures but if work was undertaken it does not appear to be documented. In 1850 the painter ‘Mr Sullivan’ was given instructions as to the tinting of ‘the bas reliefs of the north west wall’ and William Pink (qv), moulder and figure maker to the British Museum, undertook repairs to Flaxman’s plaster, Hercules and Hebe, and also ‘painting in the Hall’ on the recommendation of Richard Westmacott (Flaxman Gallery dossier, pp.106, 166, 168, 221, extracts from Flaxman Gallery Committee minute book, 28 November 1850, in University College Record Office). The reference to Pink painting in the Flaxman Hall may relate to painting the plaster figures, given that he was a figure maker. Elsewhere, it has been noted that most of the models were painted over when they were first set up (Margaret Whinney and Rupert Gunnis, The Collection of Models by John Flaxman R.A. at University College, 1967, p.3, as painted with a grey green paint, but see Marchand 2003 pp.39, 43 n.23 where pigment analysis by Catherine Hassall points to a pale ground colour, finished with a variegated yellow varnish).
In 1872 William S. Spencer, a part-time lecturer at the Slade School, cleaned some of the casts (Flaxman Gallery dossier, p.108), removing the yellow finish and painting certain models with off-white distemper (Marchand 2003 p.39). In 1890 the leading plaster figure makers, D. Brucciani & Co (qv), undertook repairs to one of Flaxman’s models but it was workmen from the British Museum sculpture department who were employed to strip paint and distemper from works in the collection, at a total cost not exceeding £100 (Flaxman Gallery dossier, pp.109, 292, 297; Marchand 2003 p.43 n.30, p.62 no.84). In 1922 Bellman, Ivey & Carter Ltd (qv), sculpture suppliers and cleaners, cleaned and repaired some of Flaxman’s casts at the considerable cost of £333 (Flaxman Gallery dossier, pp.110, 307). In 1950-2 A.G. Prescott, figure maker to the British Museum, carried out repairs to various figures, some in situ, at a cost of £130, including repainting. Certain models were cleaned and repaired for the organisers of Flaxman exhibition in Newcastle in 1958 (Marchand 2003 p.41) and various models were restored more recently.
Angus Fletcher (1799-1862), see Roscoe 2009 and Peter Sarti in this online resource.
Giovanni Franchi 1833, 1837, 1840-1844, 1848-1856, Giovanni Franchi & Son 1857-1861, Giovanni Franchi 1862-1876. At28 Great Bath St, Cold Bath Fields, London 1833, 2 Wardens Court, Clerkenwell Close 1837, 26 Great Bath St 1840-1844, 69 Myddleton St, Clerkenwell 1848-1849, 15 Myddleton St 1850-1876. Figure maker; modeller, caster in imitation of ivory by 1848, electrotypists (‘electro metallurgists’ in 1857).
Italian-born Giovanni Ferdinando Franchi (c.1811-1874) and his English-born son, Giovanni Antonio Franchi (c.1832-1870?), made the transformation from casting figures in plaster to producing electrotypes. Franchi and his son also played a significant role in the market for reproductions of ivories, called ‘fictile’ ivories, cast in plaster (see Trusted in Sources below, p.169). The business was eventually sold to Elkington & Co (qv).
In 1831 Giovanni Franchi married Mary Antoniet Sarti, born September 1816, possibly the daughter of Alexander Sarti (qv). As a plaster cast maker, also described as a modeller, he took out insurance at 28 Great Bath St, Cold Bath Fields in 1833 and at 2 Wardens Court, Clerkenwell Close in 1837 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 537/1157170, 555/1250088). As ‘artist in medallions’, he sold cameo reproductions (information from Charles Cain, June 2013). In 1846, Franchi won a medal from the Society of Arts for the best imitation in plaster of ivory (Art Journal, vol.14, 1875, p.44). ‘G. Franchi, caster’, is recorded as arriving at the Port of London from Boulogne in 1847.
In 1848, Franchi was listed in the Post Office London directory as a moulder of figures in imitation of ivory and in 1856 as a modeller, caster of figures in imitation of ivory and electrotypist. In census records, he was listed at 15 Myddleton St in 1851 as a caster of plaster composition, age 39, from Lucca, with son John, age 18, an imitator of ivory, born Clerkenwell, in 1861 as Giovanni F. Franchi, electrotypist, age 50, a naturalised British subject, in 1871 as an electro-depositor, age 59, with wife Mary, her sister Maria Sarti, as well as two young men, described as electrotypists. ‘Giovanni Franchi’ died 6 November 1874, age 63, in the Islington district (obituary, Art Journal, vol.14, 1875, p.44), described as an electrotypist, leaving effects worth under £4000.
The son, Giovanni Antonio Franchi, was listed as a caster of figures in imitation of ivory in the 1852 London directory. Franchi & Son exhibited plaster casts imitating ivory at the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition (Daily News 23 April 1855). When the son married Sarah Maria Ulmer in 1855 at St Andrew Islington, he was described as an artist, age 23, of 15 Myddleton St, but they had moved to 25 Garnault Place, Clerkenwell, by the time their daughters were christened in 1857 and 1858. Franchi’s wife and second daughter died in 1858, perhaps following childbirth. He died age 37 in the Holborn district in 1870, described as John Ferdinand Franchi, electroplater of 19 Middleton St, leaving effects worth under £800, proved by his father, Giovanni Franchi, electrotyper of 15 Middleton St, and another executor.
Franchi’s work for the South Kensington Museum, and the electro-casting process more generally, was surveyed in the Art Journal in 1866, when Franchi’s were described as ‘the only electrotypists who devote themselves exclusively to Fine Art’, and it was stated that the whole process was carried out on their premises at 15 Myddelton St in Clerkenwell (see Sources below).
In 1874 Elkington & Co (qv) acquired Giovanni Franchi’s business, leaving his nephew Alexander Edward Sarti (1850-99) to manage the workshops. Elkington & Co advertised in 1881 that, 'having established a branch manufactory at [Franchi's place of business], [they] are now prepared to do depositing in Silver and Copper and also Plating and Gilding for the Trade….' (Culme 1987 p.141). Sarti was charged by his employer with robbery and embezzlement in 1895 and committed suicide in 1899 (Culme 1987 p.141).
Works in sculpture: For the Arundel Society, Franchi made ‘fictile ivories’, probaby from about 1855, as is apparent from the Society’s catalogues (e.g., Edmund Oldfield, Catalogue of Select Examples of Ivory-Carvings from the second to the sixteenth century… casts of which, in a material prepared in imitation of the originals, are sold by the Arundel Society, 1855, examples in V&A National Art Library, 37.F.90, 37.S.160). Examples include four Arundel Society casts of Roman ivory plaques, with paper labels and stencil marks: FRANCHI & SONS, 15 Myddleton St. LONDON (Peter Malone, ex-Woolley and Wallis 1 July 2015 lot 142). The moulds for some of these casts were made by J.O. Westwood and Alexander Nesbitt, and were transferred to the Arundel Society in 1855 (see J.O. Westwood, A Descriptive Catalogue of Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum, 1876, pp.x-xi).
For the Art Union of London in 1868, Franchi’s produced a 26in high electrotype reduction of Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, modelled by W.F. Woodington, in a large edition (example coll. David Weingarten, see also Art Journal, vol.15, 1868, p.21, and Art Union of London 32nd report, 1868, pp.4-5, and subsequently).
For the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum, Franchi & Son reproduced many objects, including in 1858 an electrotype copy of a 17th-century nautilus shell cup from Utrecht for £5 and in 1865 a plaster cast of the altarpiece, Virgin and Child with Angel and Six Saints, after a marble original by Tommaso Pisano for £66.12s.4d and a much more ambitious electrotype copy of Bonanus of Pisa’s Porta di San Ranieri at Pisa Cathedral, for £550. In 1867 Franchi supplied an electrotype copy of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors for Florence baptistery for the very considerable sum of £950 (see Trusted in Sources below, p.165; for the problems involved in the process, see also Diana Bilbey and Marjorie Trusted, ‘“The Question of Casts”: Collecting and Later Reassessment of the Cast Collections at South Kensington’, in Frederiksen 2010 p.469). In 1868 Franchi produced an electrotype finished in silver of a late 17th-century silver mirror frames from Knole.
Like Elkington’s, Franchi & Son were authorised to sell electrotype reproductions of objects in the South Kensington Museum on the open market, and an attractive trade catalogue of 43 objects made by Franchi’s and 33 by Elkington’s, illustrated with photographs, was produced in 1873 (Illustrated Catalogue of Electrotype Reproductions of Works of Art from originals in the South Kensington Museum, HMSO, 1873).
Sources: ‘Electro-metallurgy’, Art Journal, 1866, vol.5, pp.286-7, Culme 1987 pp.141, 164; Marjorie Trusted, The Making of Sculpture: the materials and techniques of European Sculpture, 2007, pp.164-9. South Kensington Museum papers on its business with Franchi can be found in the extensive Franchi ‘nominal file’, 1863-71 (V&A Archive, MA/1/F1178). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
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