Before the fifteenth century accurate portraits were rare. One place in which the likenesses of kings were recorded was in their tombs, where effigies were often modelled on death masks. In the late nineteenth century the Gallery commissioned an Italian mould maker, Domenico Brucciani to make plaster casts of some of the most important original tombs in Westminster Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral. From these casts electrotype sculptures were made by the Birmingham firm of Elkington & Co, using the newly developed process of electroforming.
This display brings together five electrotype sculptures made from casts taken from the tombs of the Plantagenet royal family. Consisting of a chronological group running from Edward II to Henry IV these sculptures bring us face to face with some of the most charismatic and compelling members of a dynasty that ruled England for over three hundred years.