“Retouched” life castings.
Retrospective analysis of manuals from the 19th century, through to the Livres des Secrets of 16th century France.
Under the direction of Mr. Edouard Papet, Senior Curator for Sculpture of the Musée d’Orsay.
Why does the Complete manual of the moulder, compiled by Lebrun and edited by Roret in 1829, illustrate the casting of a natural arm with an engraving, from the Encyclopedia by Diderot and Alembert, representing the casting of an arm sculpted in clay?
This manual, which is the authority on the subject, assimilates in this example the life casting to a sculpture in a paradoxical way. From this astonishment was born an inquiry into the notion of retouching in the life castings and on his treatment by the compilers through to the Books of Secrets of the 16th century.
My thesis is that the retouching of a life casting is defined by a modeling, otherwise known as a “reparation” (réparure). This modeling has a double status in casting, attested in cast iron, to be both technical and artistic. However this typology remains implicit in the written recipes, in the sense that it is evident for an artisan.
My hypothesis is that certain compilers, such as Lebrun, applied a collage of opposing sources to evoke this tacite usage of the reparation by clumsy deviations to sculpture.
My method is relative to the intertextual theory of the rewriting. The interpretative variants of a text, according to this theory, will be considered as being already present in the source. Regarding the sources, the repair has never been theorized in recipes by artisans if not, by incomplete references to sculpture. The clumsy collages of the compilers reveal that the proven but undefined existence of the modeling in the casting is “in reserve” in the recipes. The faulty compilations of the 19th century open the door, retrospectively, to the analysis of an unedited modeling in the field of sculpture since the 16th century.
My method of evaluation is to analyse pieces through the bronze casting of the 16th century, or the pathological castings of the 19th century. It involves showing that, in certain cases, a secret typology of the reparation supports the life casting.