Stowe National Trust: Nine Muses

Stowe National Trust’s aims to reinstate the lost temples and monuments that once dressed the landscaped gardens like pieces of a theatre set.

Project overview

Project Overview

As part of a long term project, Stowe National Trust is reinstating the lost temples and monuments that once dressed the landscaped gardens like pieces of a theatre set. Cliveden Conservation were commissioned to create a set of Apollo and the Nine Muses based upon the surviving statues and research.

Summary of conservation work
To re-create the Muses, Cliveden Conservation took a mould from Calliope (the Muse of heroic poetry), the only original Muse statue still at Stowe, which now tops the garden’s Grenville column. A further two moulds were made of Painting and Sculpture, which were part of a wider group of statues that once stood on the Parterre at Stowe but are now at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

Using these three base moulds, Cliveden Conservation were able to cast replica statues and then reconfigure these models to recreate the missing muses. Cliveden’s craftsmen worked in clay and plaster to alter arms, head, hair, body orientation, drapery and add artistic accessories to the casts at their workshops in Berkshire and Somerset. The approved statues were then cast in composite stone as the final sculptures for the set.

Stowe National Trust worked closely with Cliveden Conservation Workshop to translate their research into artistic representations of the Muses to both inform the design and the final sculpting process. Guided by this research into classical and 18th-century statues, archives and drawings, ‘attributes’ (symbolic items such as globes and tambourines) were sculpted to denote each Muse’s identity.

Cliveden Conservation transported and fixed The Nine Muses onto plinths and positioned them at the edge of a circular glade on either side of the Doric Arch according to Stowe’s archaeological investigations and historic garden plans.

Results
The latest phase of Cliveden’s work to reinstate missing sculpture; the nine lost statues of the ‘Muses’ – goddesses of the creative arts and poetry, were successfully re-created – and reinstated at the National Trust’s world-famous gardens at Stowe.

Project details

Client:

National Trust Stowe

Principal Conservation Contractor:

Cliveden Conservation

Category:

Advisory and material analysis | Plaster

What we did

“The Judges were impressed with the scrupulously undertaken, detailed and highly sensitive conservation work which has produced a highly accomplished result.”

Natural Stone Awards 2018 Souvenir Programme.

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