The Art of Plaster Busts: Recreating Classical and Historical Pieces for Interior DesignsBlog |February 14th, 2018
Busts have been a staple in many a study since time of Imperial Rome (although earlier examples that date back to Ancient Egypt and Sumer also exist). Originally created as a way to commemorate relatives or ancestors, and sometimes even employed for ancestor worship, the use of busts later became a means to showcase famed individuals, often of an historical nature, primarily for décor, or for the purpose of showing off one’s status and wealth.
Busts, which are typically a cast or otherwise carved representation showcasing the upper part of the body – primarily the head, neck, and some parts of the chest and shoulders – used to be extremely pricey art pieces that were often reserved only for the wealthy. They were made from a wide assortment of materials such as sandstone, granite and terracotta, but the staple for classical antiquity was white or pink marble.
Later, bronze, brass, and porcelain busts also became in vogue. All of these materials were, and still are, costly however, and not everyone could own high-quality carved busts – even more so commissioned pieces that depicted family members or ancestors.
The demand for busts nevertheless extended towards the upper-middle and middle-class gentry of the earlier days, and cheaper versions made from plaster of Paris were produced. The demand for high-quality, detailed, but affordable busts remained strong until well into the 1930s, but only affluent houses or individuals whose tastes veered more towards the classy and elegant displayed them.
Today, busts still remain a standard décor trope for libraries and studies, and make for a fine addition to a modest home library. While marble and brass still remain pricey, coveted, and very elusive due to the fact that the creation of such pieces is now a dying art-form, plaster-cast busts are an impressive alternative.
Here are some of the advantages that plaster busts have over their pricier counterparts:
• Affordability – because they’re made from plaster, these are far more affordable than marble, brass, or granite and require less time to make.
• Detailed nature – a large number of plaster busts are made using moulds that have been based on highly detailed replicas of antiques. This means that the finished product will retain practically all of the details of whatever original it was based on, making it a truly stunning piece.
• Light weight – unlike brass, granite, or marble busts that are very hefty and require specialised means of packing and transportation, plaster busts are lightweight and can be placed even on modern glass shelving without the need for reinforcement. These are also light enough to be transported anywhere with relative ease.
If you’re hankering for a touch of class that hearkens back to the height of art and culture, grace your library or personal study with classical plaster busts.
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