When we admire the beauty and intricacy of bronze sculptures in great museums we may not think much about the medium itself, but we can think harder at the astonishing exhibition called simply “Bronze,” which opens at the Royal Academy in London on September 15 and runs to December 9. It brings together more than 150 works dating over 5000 years, from the fourteenth-century BC Chariot of the Sun, the greatest treasure of the National Museum in Copenhagen, to the recently discovered, and breath-taking, King Seuthes III from Bulgaria, by way of Chinese and Etruscan works, and the Renaissance. Two melancholy reflections: what survives is a small fraction of all that was once made in bronze, so much of which was melted down over the years; and shows on this munificent scale may not be with us much longer. The combined insurance value of “Bronze” is reckoned at over £2 billion, making it quite impossible to insure commercially and requiring government indemnity, which some owners are now reluctant to accept. Another reason to make the most of “Bronze.”

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Barthelemy Prieur, Acrobat, c. 1600. H 29.3 cm.
Skulpturensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Photo Jorg P. Anders copyright 2011, Scala, Florence/BPK, Berlin

Category: Exhibition
Royal Academy
Burlington House,
London, England