“Once you step inside the cast of Trajan’s Column, it’s Victorian engineering meets ancient Rome,” says Angus Patterson, the V&A’s senior curator of metalwork. The museum purchased the plaster cast—one of a set made from a metal electrotype of a mould commissioned by Napoleon—in 1864. The cast, which fits together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, was built around a brick core. Wooden beams, acting as stabilisers, crisscross the column’s interior, and holes for the wood scaffolding that was erected inside the column during its construction can still be seen. Long used for storage, the column’s interior now contains benches, so visitors can contemplate this Victorian feat of engineering, as well as interpretative texts related to the cast and the ancient Roman monument.
Egarr, a British harpsichordist and conductor, has been artistic director of the much-recorded period-instrument ensemble the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006. He begins his term as one of the SPCO’s rotating artistic partners next season.
Said one dealer who insisted on anonymity, “The last few years have not shown an opening in attitudes, but almost the opposite. … Every year, we have a few works rejected, but it is getting [to be] more and more — it makes me feel uncomfortable.”