The ancient Greek and Roman Mediterranean was a world full of statues. They were large, high-quality figures of bronze and marble that honoured gods, heroes, rulers and other leading men and women. The Cast Gallery contains a large and striking cross-section of this ancient world of monuments.
Casts are exact plaster replicas and reproduce the precise scale, effect and style of three-dimensional objects and figures. Their collection began in the 17th century to provide exemplary models for students in art academies learning to draw. The Ashmolean collection was originally formed in 1884 for teaching classical archaeology in the University and received its own purpose-built gallery in 1960. It is one the oldest, largest and best-preserved collections of casts of Greek and Roman sculpture in the UK. It contains some 900 plaster casts of statues, reliefs and architectural sculptures.
The collection includes historical casts dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Some highlights are sculptures from the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Belvedere Torso, the Dresden Satyr and Hermaphrodite, and a coloured cast of the Prima Porta Augustus.