As soon as mankind learned to melt metal, our souls yearned to create artistic expressions that modeled the beauty of our world’s shape, flow and form. Metal casting offered artists an opportunity to express themselves in three dimensions rather than the two dimensions seen in drawing and painting. As one famous artist shared, sculpture lets us view from 8 angles as we take in the work or art from different perspectives.
One of the earliest bronze statues that still exists is Dancing Girl from the Harappan civilization around 2500 BCE. Almost every civilization used bronze in its art. Bronze is typically a mix of mostly copper with some tin, and the processes for creating the sculpture include sand casting and lost wax casting among others. Artists who want to create bronze castings today can often team up with a local foundry to produce their treasured works of art.
Beautiful bronze sculptures are found throughout the world. They are truly magnificent and the scope and realism of the sculpture can often fill you with awe or move you to tears.
The Brunswick Lion
Standing at nearly six feet tall and over nine feet in length, the Brunswick Lion is a magnificent work of art. You can feel the power, strength and raw energy of the lion in its sculpture form. Created in the 1100s, this is one of the earliest examples of hollow-cast bronze. The statue stands before Dankwarderode Castle in Germany.
Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates to the Florence Baptistry
When you are visiting Florence, Italy there are so many beautiful sights to see. The Renaissance saw the return of bronze sculpture to Europe and the creation of the ‘Gates’ (or doors) of the Florence Baptistry. In all there are 28 gilded bronze panels and each depicts a Bible scene created in relief. The detail is amazing and you can feel the stories that are told in bronze.
Etienne Maurice Falconet’s ‘Bronze Horseman’ in St Petersburg
Standing high atop a 25 foot tall single stone cliff-like pedestal, the Bronze Horseman towers above the world below. At 20 feet tall the monument was commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great in honor of Peter the Great, who preceded her on the throne. The sculpture is an inspiring and powerful public monument.
Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Located near the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, this bronze statue was created to honor the many women who served during the war. The three women and the wounded soldier in the sculpture are stunningly real. The soldier is being cared for by a one nurse, while another kneels in prayer or exhaustion and the third nurse raises her eyes to the heavens. Seeing this statue will likely bring you to tears.
Rodin’s The Thinker
Rodin’s classic statue, The Thinker, is an internationally recognized work. Many scholars feel that modern sculpture began with Rodin, who lived from 1840 – 1917. Rodin worked mainly in bronze and may have been the inspiration for generations of new artists who followed him. Interestingly Rodin is said to have initially labeled the statue ‘The Poet’, perhaps in honor of Dante.
For over 3,000 years artists have been using bronze to create sculptures that reflect the world around us, with flow and power and beautiful form. As you travel take the time to seek out some of these treasures and you will be experience amazement and awe.