Pagan Gods, detail of Serpent

Structural problems with plaster reliefs

Many plaster relief elements exhibited problems inherent to the material from which they were fabricated, or related to the way in which they were mounted to the murals. The heavy and brittle qualities of the plaster made these elements prone to cracks and distortions, particularly in the broad, thin forms used by Sargent. Many elements, such as the section of a serpent shown here, were cast flat and suffered cracks and breaks when mounted against the curved Pagan Gods ceiling vault.
Pagan Gods, detail of serpent. This plaster relief is attached to a horizontal part of the curved ceiling vault. The large break probably occurred during the original installation (2003 photo)
The Triumph of Religion