Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze".
Common bronze alloys have the unusual and desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling the finest details of a mold. Then, as the bronze cools, it shrinks a little, making it easier to separate from the mold. Their strength and ductility (lack of brittleness) is an advantage when figures in action are to be created, especially when compared to various ceramic or stone materials (such as marble sculpture). These qualities allow the creation of extended figures, as in Jeté, or figures that have small cross sections in their support, such as the equestrian statue of Richard the Lionheart. Modern statuary bronze is 90% copper and 10% tin; older bronze alloys varied only slightly from this composition.
But the value of the bronze for uses other than making statues is disadvantageous to the preservation of sculptures; few large ancient bronzes have survived, as many were melted down to make weapons or ammunition in times of war or to create new sculptures commemorating the victors, while far more stone and ceramic works have come through the centuries, even if only in fragments. As recently as 2007 several life sized bronze sculptures by John Waddell were stolen, likely because of the value of the metal after the work has been melted.
Famous quotes containing the word bronze:
“Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mothers reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.”
—William Butler Yeats (18651939)