Electrotypes in science and art

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


David A. Scott; Stevens, Donna;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 58, Number 3, p.189-198 (2013)


The history of the production of electrotype copies is discussed in the context of the Victorian demand for reproduction of art of all kinds utilizing plaster of Paris, photographs, copies of old prints, as well as electrotypes, predominantly of copper. The philosophical reasons for the valuing or devaluing of electrotype and other copies are discussed. Electrodeposition of metals was used for an extraordinary number of different purposes in the Victorian period, and the general craze for electrotypes made their production very popular, being produced by men and women alike of many different backgrounds. By the Edwardian era, the need had subsided and an art historical reaction to the concept of copies had begun, with photography becoming more common. Examples of the use of electrotypes for photographic tinthotypes, as well as forgeries, discovered during conservation assessment at the Getty Museum on a plain Roman cased mirror which had been augmented by an electrotyped profile head addition, and samples from electropatterns from the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, are discussed in terms of the range and type of microstructural morphology displayed by electrotype copies.