Bust of William Harbutt

Contributed by Bath Museums

Bust of William Harbutt

William Harbutt was appointed Head of Bath Art School in 1874 and later ran his own art studio in the city. He was keen to devise a soft modelling medium that would not set, so that his students could experiment and alter their creations during his classes. In 1897 he succeeded in producing the substance he wanted, which quickly became known as 'Plasticine'. The popularity of the new product soon led to manufacture on an industrial scale on a former mill site in Bathampton, where Plasticine was produced for much of the 20th century. It became a popular children's toy and a world-wide household name, although it also had many industrial applications and was used for making topographical models during both world wars. The bust was modelled in Plasticine and then cast in bronze by one of Harbutt's own pupils, C. Whitney Smith. It was bequeathed to the Victoria Art Gallery by Harbutt's widow Elizabeth in 1930.

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