Bronze has a long and fascinating history. From antiquity to the Renaissance, bronze was the choice material for metal sculptures and statues. There’s a Bronze Age and a Bronze Olympic Medal, and that’s not all! During the Industrial Revolution, it was a durable commercial metal that helped charge civilization into a new, modern era.
Despite its various uses and applications, bronze remains the ideal material for sculptures and art. There’s something about bronze statues that radiate sophistication and command observation. But you don’t have to visit a national museum to stand in awe of these metallic artforms because bronze sculptures make great interior décor!
Choosing a bronze sculpture might feel intimidating. After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly how to choose the right statue and take care of it so that it shines valiantly over the years to come.
Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane to understand just how influential bronze has been in the development of art, culture and civilization.
Early humans used bronze to create bronze axes for weaponry and hunting.
During this historical period, primitive civilizations including the Ancient Sumerians heavily incorporated bronze into the development of society. During this time, the material was also used to create small pieces of bronze jewelry like bracelets and amulets.
Mesopotamian people in cities through Persia and China created ornaments, daggers, and knives from bronze.
To date, this period marks the introduction of bronze in statues and art. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, South American and Asian civilizations used bronze to make figurines and small sculptures.
Around the world, bronze permeated into global societies as a choice material to create bells, alloys, firearms, cannonballs, ship construction, and 3rd place medals.
Bronze transitioned from a decorative material to a commercial resource for industrial use. Today, manufacturers use bronze for springs, bushings, bearings, hammers, mallets, ship propellers, art, musical instruments, and sculptures and statues.
There are several techniques for making bronze sculptures. The most common method is called “lost-wax casting” and involves creating a rubber or clay mold. The artist creates a design using a malleable mold from an existing statue or original piece. After the mold forms, the artist pours a melted alloy bronze into the mold and lets it cool. Inside the mold, the heat causes the bronze to expand and ultimately, shrink as the temperature lowers. The impressions within the mold are what give the statue impeccable detail and shape. A bronze statue made with the lost-wax casting technique requires unparalleled mastery and precision.
When it comes to choosing a bronze sculpture, there are two categories available:
Molten Bronze is the highest-quality of bronze statues, made from the lost-wax casting technique.
Bonded Bronze, also known as bronze resin and cold cast bronze, is made from a mixture of materials including epoxy, resin, polyester and bronze powder. Unlike molten bronze statues, bonded bronze contains little bronze, and is sometimes only coated with a bronze finish.
We can’t write an article about bronze without mentioning patina; the two go hand in hand. Over time, bronze oxidizes and turns green. While some choose to polish bronze to avoid patina, others love the aged look of it. It’s entirely preferential whether you want to preserve the bronze coloring or let time work its magic on your statue.
Throughout history, famous bronze sculptures have shaped societies and embodied prolific historic and mythological characters. Here’s a look at some of the most famous bronze sculptures of all time:
Perhaps the most famous bronze statue in history is Rodin’s The Thinker.
While the concept seems simple, a man sitting and resting his chin on his hand, it’s renowned for its symbolism and influence. Rodin initially conceptualized a design that represented Dante at the gates of Hell in his epic, The Divine Comedy. However, the final result became much more vague, abstract, and undeniably recognizable. The Thinker presides over the sprawling Perisian gardens of Musée Rodin in Paris, France.
This little dancing girl is actually 4,000 years old, but she’s aged well! Dancing Girl is a prehistoric bronze figurine from the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro, which is now an archaeological site in Pakistan. The Dancing Girl is currently on display in the National Museum in New Delhi, Delhi.
Designed by famous American artist, Frederic Remington, Bronco Buster embodies the Old West as depicted through the lens of Hollywood cinema. The statue features a cowboy breaking a wild bronco, and is located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
A visit to Rockefeller Center in NYC will introduce you to the graceful, gliding bronze statue of Prometheus, who floats over the famous skating rink.
While the originals of these famous statues are protected by national museums and institutions, you can nab your very own replica for your home!
Bronze statues fill a room with life, motion and sophistication. When it comes to choosing a bronze statue, there are a few factors to consider. First, you’ll have to decide if you want to buy a molten or bonded bronze statue. Molten is the highest quality bronze statue, while bonded offers an affordable, bronze-like alternative. As you can imagine, the price points between the two vary drastically. Molten bronze is an artform that often comes at a steep investment, but it’ll also last long term.
Once you decide on the material, you can think about the style. Classic styles include European figurines, Asian warriors, Art Deco, impressionist and abstract pieces. The bronze sculpture you decide on will be a reflection of your personal taste. Some statues are ornate and elaborate, while others are minimal and interpretive.
You’ll also want to consider the location you intend to place the statue in. Are you looking for a bronze statue to greet guests in an entryway? Perhaps you’d like a statement piece in a bright corner? Or, maybe you’d like a small figurine to place on your work desk or bookshelf.
Regardless of the style you choose, bronze statues are a timeless piece of art that brings life to any room. Whether you go with a timeless, classic piece or something modern, your new bronze sculpture is sure to turn heads and start conversations!
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