I have always had a soft spot for plaster casts, partly in (I confess) an "I told you so" sort of way.
My Faculty in Cambridge has one of the best (and best documented) collections of plaster casts of ancient sculpture in the world, more than 600 of them. About 25 years ago I got interested in them, where they had come from, what kind of debates they had provoked, how they had intersected with bigger debates in the history of (classical) art. And indeed I wrote a little paper on the collection, published in 1994, in what was then the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society.
I have to say back then, many of my colleagues thought this was a strange, antiquarian and embarrassingly local interest. And I suspect that it was only by the skin of its teeth that the article got accepted.
But (and this is the self satisfied bit) since those days the kind of issues I raised -- about plaster casts as a key site of debate about valuation of original vs copy, or about authenticity etc -- have become much more mainstream, and probably (I admit) have been discussed much more acutely than I managed. All the same, I still feel a strong affection for these strange masterpieces of the copiest's art.
And so it is with quite a bit of excitement that I am going to the V and A on Tuesday to the opening celebration for their renovated Italian Cast Court, to "say a few words". Star of the show, though, will be Michaelangelo's David (above).