Bronze is ideal for casting art works; it flows into all crevices of a mold, thus perfectly reproducing every detail of the most delicately modeled sculpture. It is malleable beneath the graver's tool and admirable for repoussé
work. The Egyptians used bronze, cast and hammered, for utensils, armor, and statuary far in advance of the Bronze Age
in Europe. The Greeks were unexcelled in bronze sculpture. Among the few surviving examples of their work are two masterpieces: The Zeus of Artemisium
(National Mus., Athens) and The Delphic Charioteer
(Delphi Mus.). Examples of Etruscan artisans' work include a bronze chariot found at Monteleone (Metropolitan Mus.) and the celebrated Capitoline Wolf (Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome). The Romans took quantities of bronze statues from Greece and made thousands themselves. They employed bronze for doors and for furniture, utensils, and candelabra, of which some were recovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Early medieval bronzes consisted mainly of utensils and domestic and ecclesiastical ornaments. During the Renaissance, Italian sculptors wrought magnificent bronzes of many sorts, outstanding among which are Ghiberti's doors to the baptistery of Florence and the sculptures of Donatello, Verrocchio, Giovanni Bologna, Pollaiuolo, and Cellini. A series of monumental effigies of the monarchs are among the finest English bronzes. France was known in the 18th cent. for gilded bronze furniture mounts. Major modern sculptors who have worked in bronze include Rodin, Epstein, Brancusi, and Lipchitz. The classic description of Renaissance bronze casting is given in Cellini's Autobiography
See D. G. Mitten and S. F. Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World (1968); G. Savage, A Concise History of Bronzes (1968); A. Kozloff and D. G. Mitten, The Gods Delight (1988); C. C. Mattusch, Greek Bronze Statuary (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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