This is the 'Dying Slave', one of six "slaves" executed by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II (Pope 1503; d. 1513), of which two are now in the Louvre and four are in the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. The plaster cast was made in 1863 by Monsieur Toquiere. This figure, together with the Rebellious Slave (V&A cast no. 1863-16), was executed for the second project (1513) for the tomb. In this scheme, Michelangelo planned to place them on either side of the Moses (V&A cast museum no. 1858-278). The project was never completed in this form. Around 1546, Michelangelo gave these two statues to Ruberto Strozzi, a Florentine exile in Lyon, who in turn presented them to King Francois I of France. They were given by King Francois I to Conétable Anne de Montmorency and thereafter passed through the hands of several members of the Montmorency and Richelieu families. In 1794, the Rebellious and Dying Slaves were purchased for the French state, and have been preserved in the Musée du Louvre ever since.
Plaster casts were especially sought after during the 19th century, when reproductions of great works of sculpture and architecture were thought crucial for the training of artists. A separating substance was applied to the surface of the work to be reproduced, and a plaster mould made from that. The mould would then be used to make any number of additional plaster copies. These were often sold to artists, and later in the century to art colleges for study purposes.
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court , case FS, shelf S
This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email email@example.com to find out how you can help.
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London