Cast in Bronze at the Athenaeum: 19th Century Bronze Sculpture
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia has a small set of mid to late 19th century bronzes in their permanent collection. Several countries and artists are represented in the collection, but most of the objects were produced in France. Portraits of notable people and scenes taken from mythology dominate the subject matter of the collection, with Jean-Baptiste Carpeauxs bust of architect Charles Garnier and the Thomas Ball portrait of Daniel Webster the most notable parts of the collection.
Bronze sculpture was revitalized as an art at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Artists flocked to Paris to train and to have their works cast in bronze at the host of foundries that were established with bronze casting as their primary objective. Also at this time, many sculptures created prior to the Industrial Revolution were reproduced by casting them in bronze. The reproduction of past works provided new learning opportunities for a large number of artists, including Americans. As American artists traveled to Paris to learn from innovative French sculptors like Rodin and Carpeaux, Paris replaced Rome and Florence, Italy, as the most favored training ground for would-be American artists. After learning what they could in France, the artists returned to America to exhibit, teach, or continue their careers, bringing with them the taste for bronze sculpture.
This exhibition was prepared by Katie