Early 19th century collection of Grand Tour plaster intaglios


Each intaglio is a memento of one’s travels during the Grand Tour, a popular travelling event that occurred between the 17th and 19th centuries.


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This superb collection consists of around 200 plaster intaglios, each one having been carefully cast to depict well-known historical scenes and artworks.

The collection of plaster intaglios in Mayfair Gallery’s collection depicts figures and scenes from Classical Greek mythology and arts. Among the collection are pieces depicting the Three Graces as well as of Apollo in a quadriga. Some examples are signed, which most likely is a feature of the original artwork they were inspired by. Beautifully cast, the crisp whiteness of the plaster accentuates the raised textures of each piece and makes the depictions easily recognisable. They are of various sizes, most of an oval shape. The intaglios are elegantly displayed in four frames.

Plaster intaglios were bought by aristocrats during their Grand Tour of Europe. A Grand Tour most often lasted for around a year and was seen as the end of a Grand Tourist’s education, enabling the young aristocrat to learn about history and current culture as well as gain independence, readying him for his life ahead. The collection of plaster intaglios acted as souvenirs of their adventures in addition to being a reminder of the superb artworks and decorative pieces they have encountered all around the continent.

Plaster intaglios, like the ones in Mayfair Gallery’s collection, are inspired by intaglios carved into semi-precious stones and hardstones, which were traditionally used for signing messages and sealing letters. Intaglios grew in popularity during the times of the Grand Tour and were highly demanded by the wealthy aristocrats, consequently, artists created plaster intaglios, which were quicker to produce, to be purchased by travellers. Often these would be mounted into cases or books and displayed in one’s fashionable interior back home.

A handwritten (in Italian) catalogue comes with the collection. It lists the descriptions of intaglios in the frames, each one being numbered acting as an inventory of the collection. The catalogue was written shortly after the plaster intaglios were created adding an intriguing and informative archival element to the selection. The pieces are divided into their individual panels, making the process of identification easier.

This superb, large collection of Grand Tour plaster intaglios is an embodiment of one’s far travels to previously unknown places, simultaneously being symbols of the high social status of their owner. They make for an outstanding interior décor piece, one which bridges the gap between the past and present.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 19th Century
Early 19th Century
Classical, Grand Tour, Victorian
Metallic, White


39.5 cm / 15.4 inches
27 cm / 10.6 inches
5 cm / 2 inches


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