Sculptor and plaster figure maker born in Barga, near Lucca. In 1829 he travelled to London to work with his uncle Luigi ‘Lewis’ Brucciani at 5 Russell Street, Covent Garden, taking over the business in around 1840 following his uncle’s return to Italy. The business became the primary supplier of plaster casts to the emerging national network of Government Schools of Design and from the 1850s onwards, the Department of Science and Art. Brucciani exhibited a plaster cast of the Apollo Belvedere at the Great Exhibition of Works of Art of All Nations in 1851 and was commissioned to cast the equestrian statue of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur for the Crystal Palace in Sydenham in 1853. In 1857 Brucciani entered into an agreement with the British Museum to use and preserve their existing moulds and to produce new moulds from their collections of antiquities and natural history. He was a prize-winning exhibitor at the International Exhibition in 1862 and his showrooms were visited by Napoleon III the following year. Brucciani expanded his premises in 1864, naming the new 100-foot showroom at 40 Russell Street the ‘Galleria delle belle Arti’. In 1866 he produced the largest cast of his career, taken from the Puerta de la Gloria of Santiago de Compostela cathedral, commissioned by Henry Cole for the South Kensington Museum at a cost of £2,300. After Brucciani’s death in 1880 the business continued in his name, eventually passing into the hands of his grandson Paul Joseph Ryan in the early twentieth century, before being absorbed into the Victoria and Albert Museum as the Department for the Sale of Casts between 1921 and 1951.
Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 121, 492; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 202–03, 283–84, 292–93, 294; R. Wade, Domenico Brucciani and the Formatori of Nineteenth-Century Britain, New York, 2019.
Rebecca Wade, March 2023
Anonymous, ‘The Late Mr. D. Brucciani. (From a photograph by S.A. Walker, 230, Regent Street.)’,
Pictorial World (24 April 1880), p. 125. Wood engraving.
Collection of the author.