Circulating agency: The V&A, Scotland and the multiplication of plaster casts of 'Celtic crosses'

Sally M Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The creation of bespoke collections of plaster casts of ‘Celtic’ sculpture for the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition and museums in Dundee in 1904/11 and Aberdeen in 1905 provide a Scottish lens on a wider phenomenon and its context: South Kensington’s role in the provinces, museums and ‘imperial localism’, burgeoning curatorial professionalism and networking, milestones in early medieval scholarship, objects as ‘archaeology’ or ‘art’, the value of replicas, and the Celtic Revival. A ‘provinces’-up approach explores practices on the ground to reveal the significance of the work of the V&A’s Circulation Department and of people that institutional histories omit, such as R. F. Martin. Exposing how the Dundee and Aberdeen art exhibitions are selectively derivative of Glasgow’s antiquarian enterprise, and the vagaries of their subsequent survival, illuminates the importance of understanding what past and present collections omit and why, as well as what they include.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-96
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

I am exceptionally grateful to Neil Curtis, Katinka Dalglish, Christina Donald, Jennifer Melville, Rod McCullagh and Jo Weddell for feedback on an earlier draft of this paper. Morag Cross
fed my enthusiasm with regular streams of information, as well as undertaking research on Martin. Those who kindly provided advice and access to resources include: David Clarke; Mairi MacArthur; Jennifer Melville, Griffin Coe, Vikki Duncan (Aberdeen Art Gallery); David Main (Aberdeen City Council); Ellen Perry (College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, ma); Derek Craig (Corpus of AngloSaxon Sculpture); Elaine MacGillivray, Nerys Tunnicliffe (Glasgow Life Archives, Mitchell Library); Katinka Dalglish, Jane Flint (Glasgow Museums Resource Centre); Raghnall Ó Floinn, Padraig Clancy, Isabella Mulhall (nmi); Roana Mourad (Stirling Council); Christina Donald (The McManus, Dundee); Tom Bartlett, Jane Geddes, John Morrison; Jane Stevenson (University of Aberdeen); Matthew Jarron (University of Dundee); Katherine Elliott, Linda Sandino, Marjorie Trusted, Jo Weddell, Ghislaine Wood (V&A); James Sutton (V&A Archives); Anna Shepherd (V&A Images). The University of Aberdeen Principal’s Excellence Fund and School of Geosciences, and the Henry Moore Foundation supported this research and its publication.


  • replication
  • plaster casts
  • early medieval sculpture
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums
  • The McManus, Dundee
  • Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum
  • R. F. Martin
  • Celtic revival
  • circulation department
  • Glasgow International Exhibition 1901


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