The Art of Bronze Statuary in Ancient Greece

Ancient Greeks made many statues from bronze. Images of gods and heroes along with noble political leaders and philosophers could be found in temples and other sanctuaries throughout the country. Some of these works of art can still be seen in certain areas of Greece today. These statues still serve to have an impact on statues that are created in Europe and other parts of the world today.

History of Bronze Statuaries

Back in the third millennium, foundry workers found out that bronze presented certain advantages over copper for making statues. Copper could be found in abundance in certain areas of the country, including Cyprus. Tin, which was also popular at the time, was imported from other countries like Afghanistan, Cornwall, England, and Turkey. Bronze statues and bronze statue products did not start showing up in large scale until some time later. By the Archaic period around 500 B.C., the technique for manufacturing bronze, known as sphyrelaton, went out of style. From there, wax came to be used in the casting of models to be eventually turned into bronze.

Solid Casting

One of the more popular versions of statuary with bronze was through the solid casting of wax. In many ways, this method has become known as a Poor Man’s bronze statues. A model would be surrounded in wax first. Then, heated clay is applied to remove the wax. Once this step is done, then hot metals are poured into the casting. Once the metal cools, the bronze-smith opens the clay model to unleash a solid reproduction in bronze. However, there is one problem. Larger pieces did not fare well with this casting due to the physical properties of bronze. Therefore, a large statue would be cast in several pieces that would then be placed together by the bronze-smith. Iron rods would then be used to stabilize the core.

Indirectly Making Statues

Clay soon became the first material that was preferred for casting. A mold of clay or plaster could be used to replicate a form. It comes off without damaging any modeling. Beeswax lines each layer. Once it is cooled and model is removed, an artist or smith checks the quality of the mold before hot, liquid metal is poured into the mold. Once more, it is allowed to cool before the mold is removed.


There are many important aspects of Ancient Greek culture and art that still has yet to be understood. This technique shows how advanced their technology was, especially since it is still used today as a fair art medium.

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