Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things

Bronze Casting

Jo Davidson is known for sculpting in bronze. The process of bronze casting was first practiced in Asia Minor dating back to 2500 BCE and was used in ancient Greece. The use of bronze then decreased, but was resurrected in the early 19th century to be used to commemorate political leaders and other public figures. Around the time that Ida Rubenstein was sculpted in 1909 and moving into the 1920s and 1930s, small bronze sculpture was at its height, as the want to memorialize war figures increased following World War One. Although Ida Rubenstein was not a war hero, she was a publicly known person who epitomized the artistic movements of the time.
Bronze sculptures can be created through multiple processes, including lost-wax casting, sand casting, and centrifugal casting. Due to the small size of Ida Rubenstein, she was probably created using the lost-wax method where a clay model of the sculpture would first be created. Then a mould of the clay would be make in plaster which allows for more detail to be added to the piece. Next a wax is cast from the mould, creating a hallow shape to be filled with molten bronze. Once the bronze is poured in and has cooled, the mould is chipped away at until only bronze remains. As the pictures above show, there will be bronze left over from where the melted bronze was poured, and those rods will be sawed off and the exterior will be polished as a finishing touch. 

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