Saturday, November 28, 2015

John Rogers, Sculptor for the People

John Rogers was a late 19th century sculptor who was as well known and beloved in his day as was Norman Rockwell in his. 

He sculpted table-top sized figural groupings based on literature or the Civil War. He then had a team reproduce them in plaster. The casts were painted in brown or gray tones so that they wouldn't show dust. 

The plaster casts sold for about $14 —about $425 in today's dollars, so nearly everyone could afford one. Rogers produced about 80 different subjects, with about 80,000 reproductions in all. They showed up in shop windows and homes everywhere. Even Abraham Lincoln had one.
John Rogers was a 19th-Century Sculptor for the Common Man
In 2012 the New-York Historical Society had a retrospective called John Rogers: American Stories


Eugene Arenhaus said...

Neat. Sculpted book illustrations.

Dow said...

Very nice! Thank you for sharing.

ANDROID said...

I wonder how someone could make a complicated plaster cast like that at home. Have you ever tried doing something like that? And what kind of clay would you recommend sculpting in?

James Gurney said...

ANDROID, I'm no expert on sculpting and casting, but I did read that the molds were very expensive bronze molds, probably made of many pieces keyed together. Nowadays if you were sculpting a single original you'd probably use a polymer clay like Sculpey over a wire armature.

ANDROID said...

Maybe a polymer mold would work. It would be great to be able to make a permanent reproduction. I hate how gummy sculpey is though. . .