Circulating agency: The V&A, Scotland and the multiplication of plaster casts of 'Celtic crosses'



Foster S (2015) Circulating agency: The V&A, Scotland and the multiplication of plaster casts of 'Celtic crosses'. Journal of the History of Collections, 27 (1), pp. 73-96.

The creation of bespoke collections of plaster casts of ‘Celtic' sculpture for the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition and museums in Dundee in 1904/11 and Aberdeen in 1905 provides a Scottish lens on a wider phenomenon and its context: South Kensington's role in the provinces, museums and ‘imperial localism', burgeoning curatorial professionalism and networking, milestones in early medieval scholarship, objects as ‘archaeology' or ‘art', the value of replicas, and the Celtic Revival. A ‘provinces-up' approach explores practices on the ground to reveal the significance of the work of the V&A's Circulation Department and of people such as R. F. Martin, that institutional histories omit. Exposing how the Dundee and Aberdeen art exhibitions were selectively derivative of Glasgow's antiquarian enterprise, and the vagaries of their subsequent survival, illuminates the importance of understanding what past and present collections omit and why, as well as what they include.

Replicas; facsimiles; plaster casts; Celtic Revival; R F Martin; Victoria and Albert Museum; R C Graham; J R Allen; Circulation Department; V&A; Glasgow International Exhibition 1901; Kelvingrove Museum; Dundee Museum; The McManus Museum; Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum

Journal of the History of Collections: Volume 27, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2015
Publication date online01/04/2014
PublisherOxford University Press

People (1)


Professor Sally Foster
Professor Sally Foster

Professor, History