Watt's moulds – relics of a lost industry

Watt’s moulds – relics of a lost industry

The well-to-do traveller seeking enlightenment would often undertake the Grand Tour of Europe, taking in the antique wonders of Rome, Athens and Pompeii. An industry grew up making plaster copies of classical figures, to adorn peoples' homes, but also to be used as inspiration in art colleges and schools. The mould-makers produced a steady stream of moulds as, being made of plaster, they wore out and broke easily. For this same reason, few 18th century moulds survive today – except in Watt's workshop. Here, Watt collected the moulds as part of his interest in reproducing statuary. Watt's workshop is an exceptionally rich source of surviving artists’ moulds, many still tied up with ancient string.

Currently on display in:
James Watt and our World
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