History of Bronze Sculpture
Ever since the beginning of recorded time, mankind has been creating artistic images of his world as he sees it, and since the very earliest times have been smelting metals to create beautiful and decorative sculptures. Some bronze sculptures have survived for thousands of years, with many artefact’s being discovered in the ancient burial tombs of Chinese emperors, the ancient cities of Mesopotamia and many Roman towns.
Why Bronze Sculptures?
Apart from being beautiful (and a beggar to keep clean) bronze does have some other qualities which make it desirable for sculptures. You see, the common bronze alloys actually expand a little just before they set, which means that you can achieve some fantastic attention to detail in the models from the finest detail in each mold. This is why so many of even the most ancient bronze sculptures are extremely intricate. Bronze is also extremely strong and ductile (not brittle) and is brilliant for many action figures which have only the smallest, finest support sections. You could never hope to achieve this with marble or other stone.
Disappearing Bronze Sculptures
Unfortunately, due to bronze being also extremely valuable for other uses, generally weapons, many bronze sculptures will have been smelted down in times of war. Many of them which weren’t used for weaponry purposes were smelted to create new sculptures of war heroes, which can be plainly seen in many city squares and parks, and on walkways all across the world. This means that, unfortunately, not many of the larger ancient bronzes have survived to modern times.
Ancient Bronze Sculptures
Few of these life size ancient bronze sculptures do exist, but there is one wonderful example which was preserved in sea-water. Known now as “The Victorious Athlete” this Greek masterpiece is now proudly displayed in a museum for all to see, after many hours of painstaking work restoring the “athlete” to his former glory. Circa 310 BC, he doesn’t look half bad at all.
Bronze sculptures kind of fell out of fashion for centuries, but once again came to the forefront during the Renaissance period when they were popular. The industrial revolution which followed four centuries later provided the tools necessary for creating bronze sculptures, and lots of foundries sprang up in the city of Paris for the thousands of artists who flocked there eager to have their creations cast in bronze.