One of the most ancient metals discovered by mankind, bronze has been used for warfare, construction, and decoration for thousands of years. First composed of copper and tin around 4500 BC, bronze still finds wide applications to this day.
Cast bronze sculptures have been widely used across time due to the metal’s unusual property of expanding slightly before it sets, thus filling the finest details of a mould, and shrinking when cooling. The latter makes it easier to separate the sculpture from the mould. One of the earliest bronze statues discovered was the Dancing Girl from Mohenjodaro dating back to around 2500 BC. More examples of bronze sculptures were found in Greece, China, India and Africa. The Greeks were the first ones to create life sized bronze sculptures, however not many statues from that era survived as bronze was a very valuable metal and in short supply. Many of the most famous Greek bronze sculptures are known through Roman copies in marble.
Bronze has lost its relevance in the decorative arts later in history, primarily because it was mostly used for casting artillery and other means of warfare. During the Renaissance however, the metal has resurfaced as an important part of decorative arts once again. Florence has revitalized the use of metal for creative purposes in the 15th Century, therefore popularizing it across Italy and the rest of Europe. This trend continued into the 16th Century, until the metal was forgotten once again. The Industrial revolution has allowed to increase the scale at which bronze could be used for creating art pieces, and as such, the metal once again became widely used. To this day, bronze is commonly used to create statues, memorials, and sculptures.