Have you ever wondered why some bronze figures are priced in the lacs and others in the low thousands? This is not only because of the quality of the work but also the name of the sculptor and often the foundry mark. Even slight damage can lower the price. Authentic antique bronze sculptures are considered to be those that are made from the original molds or maquettes and cast by the licensed manufacturers or foundries. By years of handling antiques, we have gained knowledge that there are some clear indications relating to materials and processes which deviate inauthentic bronze sculptures from the authentic antique sculpture.
If you are a beginner as a collector you need a lot to know before paying big money. Keep in mind these factors –
Check the various price guides
Consult antique professional hand guide and auction house catalogs. You can get price ideas on the internet in Art Facts.
Familiarize yourself with sculptors name, their work, their signatures and the foundry that made them. These sources will help you to get an idea of what is coming to market and the prices.
Also, you have to learn about the variety of patinas and techniques to recognize sculpture work. Among the patinas; embugadon (a reddish-brown), velvet black; medallion black that has glints of brown. There are different shading that makes difference in price like gilt bronze, silvered bronze, and many other shadings.
To know if the piece is really bronze look for a scratch-made by others or ask the seller to make a tiny scratch for you on the piece. The metal underneath will show up.
However, every signed piece does not guarantee anything. Often small bronze works are not signed. They are maybe the miniature of an artist’s larger and important work. So you need to confirm about one antique piece with these qualities-
The art of chasing
The re-detailing of by hand on a bronze sculpture is known as ‘chasing’. In this process, the scars left by the rods are carefully blended to match the rest of the surface. The skilled chaser does this painstakingly to add the detail to the sculpture’s surface. Any electric drill cannot replicate the beauty and care done by using a handheld chisel and punch.
The importance of patination
We know that patination is not allowed as authentic for an antique bronze sculpture. But sometimes, a patina is applied to the surface of the bronze to change its color. This is done to protect both the surface of the raw bronze and to enhance the overall aesthetic effect which may otherwise oxidize over time.
Bronze expands or contracts when heated and cooled, contraction results in shrinkage in size by 2% to 3%. If you are most passionate about an antique piece try to obtain the exact information of the dimensions of the original bronze sculpture you can compare the piece to determine whether the piece is an original cast or a re-cast.
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