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Beautiful Bronze - Bronze Sculpture In Ancient And Modern Times

Though most cultures have a history of creating bronze sculptures, it was the ancient Greeks who are credited with the first life-size bronze figures. At first beating the bronze into shape and welding pieces together, the Greeks later refined the bronze sculpture technique by creating a clay model, lining it with wax and then a second layer of clay. The molten bronze was then poured in, which melted the wax and left a uniform bronze piece in the desired shape. Modern bronze sculptors have taken the Greek idea of large-size art to new heights, with impressively-sized bronze sculptures. Finished bronze can also be gilded, a process known as ormulu. Famous bronze sculptors through history included Donatello, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Giambologna (Giovanni da Bologna) and Benvenuto Cellini.

Bronze, an easily molded, durable and visually appealing material, has been utilized by civilized man for more than 5,500 years. According to archaeological finds, though bronze was initially used in the making of weapons and household items, it was quickly discovered that the material made unparalleled art. Archaeological evidence shows that bronze first appeared in Iran, Iraq and Turkey around 3,500 BCE (before the current era), followed by India (3,300 BCE) and concurrently, China and Europe (about 2,100 BCE).

Bronze is an alloy of copper with another material, usually tin, though other materials, including phosphorous, aluminum or silicon, may also be used. Bronze has the unique quality of expanding slightly as it cools. This makes it ideal for pouring into molds, as it "grows" to fill in extremely delicate details within the mold, lending a realistic appearance.

Though most cultures have a history of creating bronze sculptures, it was the ancient Greeks who are credited with the first life-size bronze figures. At first beating the bronze into shape and welding pieces together, the Greeks later refined the bronze sculpture technique by creating a clay model, lining it with wax and then a second layer of clay. Nails were inserted to brace the model. The molten bronze was then poured in, which melted the wax and left a uniform bronze piece in the desired shape. The clay was then be chipped away to reveal a hollow, relatively lightweight statue. This process, called the lost-wax method, is still in use today, though a variety of refinements have been made.

For a solid bronze sculpture, wax is used for most of the internal portion of the model. Most artists will start with a production model in case the molten process fails and the process must be started over again. Modern bronze sculptors have taken the Greek idea of large-size art to new heights, with impressively-sized bronze sculptures. These are often created in pieces, transported to the final location and welded on the spot.

Once the desired shape is obtained and the outer layer chipped out, the bronze sculpture is polished. Some artists use a patina rubbed on the outside of the sculpture, which results in a variety of color and sheen level effects. Finished bronze can also be gilded, a process known as ormulu.

Famous bronze sculptors through history included Donatello, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Giambologna (Giovanni da Bologna) and Benvenuto Cellini. Bronze sculptors of the modern era include Henry Moore, Leonard Wells Volk, Harry Webber, Bill Toma and John W. Mills.

Submitted by:

Anita Satin Choudhary

Anita Satin Choudhary writes for Ivory and Art Gallery. Browse the gallery for unique collection of artifacts ranging from Bronze sculpture to mammoth Ivory Tusks.




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