- Late 19th century-mid 20th century (Creation)
Level of description
Content and Structure
Scope and content
Collection of items related to the Glasgow based firm J. Giusti & Co. which specialized in the production of plaster figures, mould making, statuary repair, and other plaster work. The collection is primarily composed of plaster busts and portraits, six moulds, and two medals. The casts and moulds are formed after a range of sculptural styles including ancient Greek and Roman, French Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and 19th century anatomical studies.
The Giusti Plaster Cast Collection highlights mould making and casting processes that were used to produce objects for retail and to repair existing plaster casts. Records from The Glasgow School of Art document purchases and repairs from J. Giusti & Co. from as early as 1890, and casts related to those in the collection were widely used as teaching and learning tools at the GSA through at least mid-20th century.
As most of the items in the collection were used in commercial casting processes, very few items have a plain white, white washed, or decoratively painted surface that are often observed in plaster cast collections. Many of the plaster casts and all of the plaster moulds are widely covered with uneven layers of shellac that appear yellow, red, or brown. Shellac was applied as a sealant and resist agent to prevent existing plaster elements from sticking to fresh plaster elements during the casting process.
In addition to the plaster casts and plaster moulds, several items provide further insights into the material processes employed by J. Giusti & Co. Two medals (likely bronze) showcase the company's involvement with mould making for metal casting, and a gelatine mould is a surviving example of a traditional process used to produce detailed casts in small quantities.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.
System of arrangement
Name of creator
Liverpool-born sculptor, associated with Archibald Dawson and Benno Schotz throughout the inter-war years as the most important sculptors of their generation in the west of Scotland. Proudfoot was a student of modelling and stone carving at GSA during from 1896/97 to 1908/9, winning the Haldane Travelling Scholarship in 1908. He was also a member of GSA staff from 1909 until 1928, and became Head of Sculpture in 1912. He was busy throughout 1914, working on carving for the Trades House and Old Deacons Club, as well as exhibiting various portrait busts and reliefs. His output was interrupted, however, by the First World War, in which he served as a sergeant in the Artists Rifles, during which time he invented a protractor for the Vickers machine gun. Even so he managed to exhibit Charon at Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts in 1915. After the war he continued as an independent sculptor, with a prodigious output of portrait busts and ideal work, and remained Head of Sculpture at GSA until 1928. He also secured commissions for war memorials at Bearsden (1924), and Greenock (1924). He was elected Associate Royal Scottish Academy in 1921, Scottish Academy in 1932, and was President of Glasgow Art Club three times between 1924 and 1939. Two years before his death he married his assistant, Ivy Gardner. GSA collections holds one of his pieces - the Newbery Medal which was a prize awarded annually to the ‘student who passes the Diploma Examination with the most distinction’. Proudfoot appears on Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour. If you have any more information, please get in touch.
Name of creator
Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach was born in Illzach, in Alsace-Lorraine, France, the son of a Protestant pastor. By fifteen, he had moved to Paris to study music and art. He studied sculpture under Julius Hähnel in Dresden, and then worked in Paris in the studios of François Jouffroy and Alexander Falguière at the École des Beaux-Arts. After an unsuccessful period in Paris, he returned to Alsace in 1865, and continued as a musician. Ringel was twenty-three when Alsace-Lorraine was annexed to Germany as part of the settlement for the Prussian victory during the Franco-Prussian War. To assert his French heritage, Ringel added the name of his native Alsatian village, Illzach, to his surname. In 1877 he traveled to Italy, probably at his own expense. There he made sketches that demonstrate the deep impression that ancient and Renaissance art had on his work. Details from these drawings, such as classical forms and ornament, are directly reflected in his three-dimensional work. His later fascination with bizarre and fantastical Symbolist themes and iconography is often combined with classicizing details based on his early impressions in Italy. D'Illzach experimented with diverse forms and materials, from sculpture to jewelry. He is best known for his work in ceramics, glass, marble, and wax, in which he produced objects on both the miniature and the monumental scale. He was especially skilled at portraiture in polychrome wax, including portrait medallions of renowned personalities of the day, such as Sarah Bernhardt and Emile Zola.
Name of creator
J. Giusti & Co. was a Glasgow-based business active from the late 19th to the early 21st century specializing in plaster work and mould making. The firm was likely founded by one of the Giusti Brothers who are listed in an 1871 census residing at 130 Hospital Street, Glasgow: Calelo Giusti (born c.1843), Giuseppie (sic.) Giusti (born c.1844) and Gamalielo Giusti (born c.1847). The three brothers are listed in the census as “stucco image makers.”
The family seems to have started two separate businesses, both of which are recorded in the Glasgow Post-Office Annual Directory, 1884-85. One business, “Giusti Brothers,” is listed as “figure makers” and operated at 7 South Coburg St. The other business, “J. Giusti” is listed as “plaster modeller” and operated at 87 Bothwell St. The two Giusti businesses continued to operate for several years, and by 1886 “J. Giusti” was expanded to “J. Giusti & Co.” By 1889, only the J. Giusti & Co. business was listed in the Post-Office Directory, but under two locations. The first location at 328 South Vincent St. is listed under “Modellers,” and the second location at 87 Bothwell St. is listed under “Modellers (In Wood).”
J. Giusti & Co. engaged in a several enterprises outside of their work with plaster. The company is also described as confectioners in 1899 and later, from 1902 until at least 1910, as wine and Italian merchants. However, the company's longest business interest was in the production of plaster moulds as well as the sale and repair of plaster casts.
Records from the Glasgow School of Art Board of Governors indicate that the school purchased plaster casts from J. Giusti & Co. and hired the company to make plaster reproductions of student work as early as 1890. The company was hired to repair plaster casts at the GSA as early as 1891 and was hired for the same purpose through 1996 when the company performed repair work on the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
In the mid-20th century the company was purchased by the Gaggini family. They continued to operate under the business name J. Giusti & Co., and described themselves as “statuary and cornice repair, moulders and figure makers.” Throughout much of the 20th century the company supplied local schools and churches with plaster casts and operated a retail shop selling plaster objects at least through the mid-1970s. After the business closed, members of the Gaggini family continued to repair statuary, work with plaster, and supply plaster casts until as recently as 2016.
Name of creator
Charles Smith was a plaster figure and sculptor's moulder in London active from at least 1886 until his death in 1918. After the death of Charles Smith, his sons, George Smith and Charles Smith Jr continued the business. The firm experienced financial difficulty in the 1920s, although the family continued to be involved in mould making and plaster casting until 1953.
Name of creator
Domenicho (Domenico) Brucciani (1815-1880) was born in Lucca, Italy and migrated to England in the first half of the nineteenth century. He established a business which produced casts of sculptural works from international collections. By 1837 he owned a showroom near Covent Garden and was selling works to the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). By 1857 D. Brucciani & Co. were working for the British Museum, making moulds and casts of their classical sculptures, bronzes and other pieces, to be sold commercially. The company was successful during Brucciani's lifetime as it capitalised on the nineteenth century fashion to have plaster casts of sculptural works in the home. Following his death his business was purchased by another Italian, Joseph Caproni (1846 - 1900), who retained the name D. Brucciani & Co., and the business continued to manufacture casts, with customers including the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Classical Archaeology. However, as demand for plaster casts declined in the twentieth century, the business failed. Consequently, it was purchased by the V&A and operated as the Department for the Sale of Casts until 1951 when it was forced to closed due to financial losses.
Donated to GSA in 2016.
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
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Conditions governing reproduction
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Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
People and Organisations
- The Glasgow School of Art (Subject)
Genre access points
Level of detail
- Catalogued by Riley Cruttenden, work placement student (MLitt Technical Art History, University of Glasgow), Feb-Apr 2017.
- Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.
Finding Aid Authors: The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.
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