News-Antique.com - Oct 27,2010 - Bronze has been valued for its strength, endurance and beauty for millennia. It is bronze that tells a lasting tale of cultures lost to time – vessels and funerary objects, coins, tools and decorative items provide a record of ancient civilizations.
Various cultures contributed to the refinement of bronze casting. Strides were made in creating new patinas (the color on a finished piece) and, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, painting gilt on bronze works enjoyed popularity. Appreciation of bronze was further enhanced in 1432, when Italian artist Donatello cast his bronze of David. It was the first free-standing nude produced since the classical period and it gave birth to a new school of bronze in Padua – leading to a rich body of bronze sculptures that continues to this day.
But it is not the innovations that distinguish the history of bronze. It is that thread of mystery – the alchemy of the bronze process that is unchanged over time. Today, as in the distant past, the sounds of chains rattling and hammers clanging, the sight of foundrymen (and women) coaxing a crucible of 2,200-degree Fahrenheit molten metal from the fire, continues to attract artists and those who love art. As the bronze pours, glowing crimson and bubbling like a lava flow, the magic happens. Art happens. And the foundry workers clang a loud bell that rings across time and place. There’s been another pour and new bronze works are cooling, waiting to take their places in the history of bronze.