Layers of History

Posted by Lisa Benson on

We were looking at a few of our pieces in the gallery the other day, and it was like opening a long-forgotten history book. There are so many layers, such as where the original piece came from and the history, culture, and stories surrounding its creation, to how the people of that time, and times beyond, thought about and appreciated the artwork.

Then there is the history of the Caproni Collection itself, when Pietro Caproni first traveled to Europe to make the original molds, which conjures a daydream of what that journey may have been like for him. Who did he meet along the way that informed his processes? What were his working habits and routines? How did he choose which pieces to make molds of?

On a tertiary level, there is the history of the antique casts themselves. We get to hear the stories and meet the people when we restore or appraise a work -- whether it's a beloved family heirloom hanging on a wall or a oft' studied figure in a school hallway. 

And though there is the history in what's already been made, there is also the future: the pieces that we are casting now in our workshop and the casts you have in your homes, offices, and studios that are making their own stories right now.

When thinking about these layers, we wanted to take a deeper look into a few of the wall plaques that we have from Trajan's Column in Rome. The 126-foot-tall monument, known as Trajan's Column, commemorates the Roman Emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. Trajan himself commissioned it and the forum in which it stands. The forum included a basilica, a temple, two libraries, and markets, now all in ruins. The construction of the forum and column was most likely supervised by Apollodorus of Damascus.

Our plaques come from the bas-relief frieze that spirals 23 times around the column. Here are the pieces we currently offer from that monument:

photo of plaster cast sculpture relief of two male heads with a black background
Two Heads from Trajan's Column #157

photo of plaster cast sculpture relief of male head and top of toga with a black background
Head from Trajan's Column #717

photo of plaster cast sculpture relief of upper body of male with arm raised behind head and holding a hammer with a black background
Head of Man with Uplifted Hammer from Trajan's Column #751

Plus a brand new piece that we just added!

photo of plaster cast sculpture relief of male head with top of toga on a gray background
Head from Trajan's Column #752

In our research we learned some interesting facts:

  • Although we now observe the reliefs from the ground, originally people could have viewed them from inside the two libraries that stood beside it. So the original design allowed for close viewing.
  • The column is not just a popular tourist attraction now, but in the Middle Ages too!
  • The scenes are carved out of hollow drums of marble, stacked one upon the other.

One of our favorite sources of information was an article from National Geographic titled "Trajan's Amazing Column: A War Diary Soars Over Rome," not only for the depth of information but also for the interactive graphic. 

We would be amiss if we didn't remind you of our sale, ending soon, which would apply to the pieces we just mentioned! You can take 10% off all our Wall Plaques until the SALE ENDS 12/12!  **Use the code: WALL10OFF** 

Enjoy making your own history this holiday season!

Robert, Kathleen, Kayla, and Lisa

Please note: Sources used can be found on the product pages.


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