V&A Search the Collections

Proserpine

  • Object:

    Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1840 - ca. 1865 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lucas, Richard Cockle (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory

  • Museum number:

    186-1865

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    This is an ivory medallion plaque made by Richard Cockle Lucas in ca. 1840-65 in Britain. The plaque represents a bust of Proserpine in low relief.

    Richard Cockle Lucas (1800-1883) is mainly known as a sculptor in wax and ivory, but he also worked in glass, marble and bronze, as well as being a painter. Lucas began his career as a sculptor as an apprentice to his uncle, who worked as a cutler in Winchester, carving knife handles. He joined the Royal Academy Schools in 1828 and studied under Richard Westmacott. Lucas made two models of the Parthenon, in its original state and after the explosion of 1687, which were acquired by the British Museum. He is best known for his small scale works including wax sculptures and ivory carvings. Lucas was at the centre of a controversy about the bust of Flora in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. The bust was thought to be an authentic work by Leonardo da Vinci but the sculptor's son Albert Dürer Lucas claimed in the Burlington Magazine that the bust was modelled by his father. It is now generally thought that the bust is probably by Leonardo or his circle but was repaired by Lucas. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1829 and 1859 and showed ivory carvings and imitation bronzes at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

    Proserpine was the daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. Proserpine had been collecting flowers with her female companions when Pluto, the god of the underworld, seized her and fell in love with her. Pluto – struck by Cupid’s arrow – carries Proserpine to the underworld where she becomes his wife.

  • Physical description

    Bust in low relief of Proserpine, shown wearing a headband entwined with corn, a necklace, and an earring, in bust profile facing left. There are faint remains of a blue background.

  • Dimensions

    Height: 13 cm, Width: 9.84 cm

  • Object history note

    Given by Richard Cockle Lucas in 1865, through Lord Palmerston, one of 33 works by Lucas received by Richard Redgrave on behalf of the Museum on 17 June 1865.

  • Descriptive line

    Medallion plaque, ivory relief, bust of Proserpine, by Richard Cockle Lucas, Britain, ca. 1840-65

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part II, p. 123
    Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1865. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 32
    Roscoe, I., with Sullivan, M.G. and Hardy, E., A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660 to 1851, New Haven, 2009, p. 763
    Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 173

  • Collection code

    Sculpture Collection