Notable Copper & Bronze Art Through the Ages
1. Zeus of Artemision, 460 - 450 B.C.
2. Doors on the Baptistry of San Giovanni, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1402
3. David by Donatello, ca. 1430
4. Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini, 1545-54
5. The Thinker by Rodin, ca. 1880
6. Statue of Liberty by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, 1886
7. Bronco Buster by Frederic Remington, after 1895
8. Eternal Youth, "The Golden Boy" by Charles Gardet, 1918
9. The Archer by Henry Moore, ca. 1966
1. Zeus of Artemision, Greece
Bronze, circa 460-450 B.C.
2.09 m (6-ft 10.5-in) high
2.10m (6-ft 10.75-in) fingertip to fingertip
Found in the sea near Cape Artemisio
Dating to the classical period of ancient Greece, this is an example of the most exquisite sculptures ever made. This style celebrates freedom of movement and expression. Humans are depicted in a more naturalistic form than previously, producing an illusion of movement. Stiff, formal vertical figures were replaced with forms of humans in action. Classical statues suggest humans full of energy. Muscles were shown in both relaxation and tension. For the first time, the human body was being depicted as an art form. Even gods were presented as a way to study weight, balance and proportion in humans..
Photo: Tetratys/Wikimedia Commons
2. Lorenzo Ghiberti's Doors on the Baptistry of San Giovanni, Florence
Gilt bronze, 1402-24 and 1425-52
Around this time, many cities in Europe had bronze foundries, especially for artillery, but Florence experienced the first large creation of bronze sculptures. Florence was known for its lustrous reddish bronze, which became the standard.
In 1401 a competition was held to decorate a new set of bronze doors for the Baptistery. Lorenzo Ghiberti's sample relief was so technically masterful and sophisticated that he won the commission. The doors became his life's work. The first set of doors depicts scenes from the life of Christ and was completed in 1424. This work was so appreciated that he was commissioned to create a second set, which presents scenes from the Old Testament and came to be known as the Gates of Paradise after Michelangelo called them that. These doors were finished in 1452.
Photo: The Encyclopedia Britannica
The scenes on the door are in high and low relief, and show a transition in sculptural style toward classical forms and innovations in perspective. Ghiberti influenced other sculptors, including Donatello, who had been an assistant in his workshop.
3. David by Donatello, Florence
Bronze, 185 cm(72.83 in) high, circa 1430 or 1440
Donatello lived from 1386 to 1466 and is credited with establishing sculpture as the leading visual art of his time. In 1430 or 1440, he created his work David, which was the first large-scale, free-standing nude statue of the Renaissance. Showing inspiration from classical Greece, it broke with medieval tradition and revived nude sculpture.
The work shows the young shepherd boy victorious after his battle with Goliath, in a natural pose with a vitality and softness of skin. His contemplative expression reveals the artist's good imagination and understanding of human motives and emotion. This helped make Donatello unique in the early Renaissance.
The date of and reason for the work's creation is uncertain, but during the wedding of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1469, it stood in the centre of the courtyard of the Medici palace in Florence.
Photo: University of Georgia
4. Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini, Florence
Bronze, 10 ft-6 in high (2.9 m); 18 ft (5.5 m) high with base, circa 1545 - 1554
Perseus holds a curved sword in one hand and wears winged sandals and a winged helmet. In the other hand he holds the severed head of Medusa, the mythological figure who could turn men to stone. Her dying body is draped at his feet. Benvenuto Cellini's name is signed on the strap that crosses Perseus' body. Niches in the marble base contain bronze statuettes of other mythic figures.
Cellini, an Italian who lived 1500 to 1571, created this monumental bronze work as his first commission, between 1545 and 1554. The inclusion of blood flowing from the head and trunk was unexpected and makes the bronze look alive and fluid. This provides two points of dramatic focus.
Cellini also understood that large bronze statues need to have interest created all around the work. This is particularly important when the bronze will be located in a public outdoor setting, as this work was.
5. The Thinker by Rodin, France
Bronze, 71.5 cm high x 40 cm x 58 cm, (28 in x 15.7 in x 22.8 in), circa 1880
In 1879 Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) began a commission from the French government to create doors for the Museum of Decorative Art. The theme was Dante's long poem Divine Comedy. Rodin called his work The Gates of Hell, which was meant to remind people of Ghiberti's doors known as the Gates of Paradise. Thinker was part of this composition and was meant to represent Dante thinking of his poem and becoming involved in the creative process. The museum was not built as originally planned and The Gates of Hell was never completed. Instead, figures and groups from the work were made into separate sculptures.
Photo: CJ/Wikimedia Commons
At this time, modern mechanical methods allowed works to be reproduced to any size and in any material. Endless casts and copies could
be created to satisfy the market made up of wealthy people wanting small art works. Thinker is the most famous of Rodin's works. It is
thought to have been made in dozens of sizes and in thousands of copies.
Photo: University of California, Berkeley
It was exhibited in its original size of 71.5 cm (28 in) high in Copenhagen in 1888. It was enlarged in 1902 and exhibited at the Salon of 1904.
It was the first work by Rodin to be erected in public, in front of the Pantheon in 1906. In 1922 it was moved to the Rodin Museum. Another
version of it is over Rodin's tomb.
Rodin created surfaces that were faceted and looked unfinished, which also catch light and give the works a sense of movement. Rodin is considered the first sculptor of the modern movement.
6. Statue of Liberty by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, New York City
Copper, 151 ft (46.5 m) high
Pedestal and foundation, 154 ft (46.9 m), 1884
Photo: Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island
The statue is made of pure copper sheets hammered onto a framework of steel, except for the flame of the torch, which is coated in gold
leaf. It has a pedestal of concrete faced with granite and a foundation in the shape of an 11-pointed star. It was built up from a 9 ft (2.7 m)
model. An elevator runs to the top of the pedestal.
This colossal statue, originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World, was intended to commemorate the French and American
revolutions. It was designed by F.A. Bartholdi in the form of a woman holding a torch high. It was presented to the United States by France
in 1884, was dedicated in 1886 and became a national monument in 1924.
7. Bronco Buster by Frédéric Remington
Bronze, 22 in (56 cm) high, 1895
Around the turn of the 20th century, a market grew for small statues in private homes. Frederic Remington was originally a painter and illustrator, who in 1895 turned to sculpture of popular western American themes. He used the French style of naturalistic, textured surfaces on clearly American subjects. His Bronco Buster, a cowboy taming a wild horse, became one of the most purchased of all American statuettes. More than 300 authorized bronze casts were created.
The piece was first produced in 1895 with sand casting by Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company. In the early 1900s Remington had Roman Bronze Works produce it with the lost-wax process. A larger version, made in 1909, is 32 in (81 cm) high.
Photo: BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons
8. The Golden Boy by Charles Gardet, Winnipeg
Bronze, 22 in (56 cm) high, 1895
Photo : Jomoud Fotothique
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Officially titled Eternal Youth, this sculpture on top of Winnipeg's Legislative Building is fondly called The Golden Boy. Sculpted by Charles
Gardet in 1918, it was cast in bronze at the Barbidienne foundry in France. It survived the First World War, and was put on a ship, but the
ship was then used to transport troops for a few years. The statue did not arrive in Halifax until war activities had ended. It was safely
installed in time for the official opening of Winnipeg's Legislative Building in 1920. In the 1950s it was painted in gold leaf. In 2002 it was
taken down for several months for repair and restoration.
9. The Archer by Henry Moore, Toronto
Bronze, 2.5 tonnes (5,512 lbs.) set on a concrete base surrounded by a concrete floor embedded with stones, circa 1966
Officially titled Three-Way Piece No. 2, this work has been given the more human nickname, The Archer. The architect of Toronto's new
City Hall, Viljo Revell, asked the Bristish sculptor Henry Moore to design a statue suitable for the large Nathan Phillips Square in front of the
hall. $100,000 had been designated for a work of art for the square, but Moore's piece raised such public controversy that at first it was
rejected by City Council. After Revell's death, Mayor Phillip Givens raised the funds privately to pay for The Archer. The sculpture was
installed in 1966.