BRONZES. The art of bronze-casting was known in very early times to the Assy rians, Babylonians, Hindoos, Persians, Chinese and Japanese. Egyptian bronze work dates back to the 3d dynasty (4900 ac.); the bronze was a natural not artificial alloy. By 1600 B.c artificial bronze was in common use on the Nile, and really artistic work appears from the 3d century B.C. While the early bronze work (see BRONZE AGE) of the nations con sisted largely of weapons, armor and eating utensils, articles of decoration. soon were pro duced and bells came into early use. To such early bronze art work belong the Assyrian Bala wat gates with their bands of bronze figure subjects, and some Egyptian cast and carved bronze statues.
The Greek sculptor Lysippus (340 a.c.) signed his name on statues showing great skill (in Rome) and the chimaera (in Florence). Both bronzes show, by their archaic style, that they belong to the early stages of the Etrus can artisans. But the Etruscans excelled in producing lovely household and decorative pieces. Their many existing hand-mirrors (specchi), their toilet caskets (cista), etc., are truly works of art and their incised decorative treatment is greatly admired to this day.
Roman and Greco-Roman Bronzes.— Many lovely works of art in bronze, repousse and cast, have been excavated in Italy in mod ern times. Pompeii and Herculaneum afforded us great examples of such work; the statu ette of Narcissus is, perhaps, best known, as well as many bronze heads with eyes formed of ivory. The Naples Museum has over 14,000 examples of decorative bronzes including can delabra, tripods, chairs, couches, tables, etc., and talent. By the 5th century the Greeks were able to cast statues of considerable size in a single piece. Earlier large statues were built up of plates or separate parts. The Phcenicta.ns also did excellent work in statuary. In the reign of Vespasian (79-81) the city of Delphi had 3,000 bronze statues. The Greeks made several alloys of bronze; one much fa vored was the liver-colored (hepatizon) variety. Among the noted large bronze Greek works of art may be mentioned: the headless statue of a youth (Berlin) ; heroic figure of a chario teer (Athens); boy extracting a thorn (aspin ariol)) and the boxer (both in Rome) ; statue of a boy (New York Metropolitan Museum) ; Ridohnop (Florence) ; Hermes resting (Naples) ; Nike (Breccia) ; praying boy (Berlin) ; Eros (Morgan Collection), etc.
The Greeks and Romans knew the art value of patina (see PATINA) on bronze work. They termed the natural oxidation cerugo, but they had a more rapid, artificial rust-producing process brought about with soured wine. This latter patina they termed ceruca.
That the ancient Etruscans were capable of casting bronze in large pieces is demon strated by the present existing °Capitoline Wolf' used by the Romans 18 centuries ago. Among the noted pieces of this period extant we would mention the equestrian statue (about 65 A.D.) found at Pompeii; that of Marcus Aurelius (175 A.D.), at Rome; four bronze horses, now in front of Saint Mark's, Venice, probably of the Nero period (54-68 A.D.) ; those of Tribonianus Gallus (251-53), and Camillus (365). Other noble works are four beautiful fluted Corinthian columns of gilt bronze at the chapel of the Holy Sacrament in the Lateran basilica, and the massive bronze doors of the Pantheon.
Mediaeval Bronzes.— To this period belong two bronze medallions (Vatican), each repre senting the heads of Saint Peter and Saint Paul facing each other. Most important are the bronze seated statue of Saint Peter in Saint Peter's basilica (Rome) • and the so-called chair of Dagobert (Pans). After the fall of Rome, Constantinople became the centre of the bronze workers, and Byzantine style, of course, prevailed in the decoration. Bronze castings of the Middle Ages were largely devoted to church uses: crosses, ciboria, candelabra, bap tismal fonts, reliquary holders, censers, bells, etc. Fine art work was done on bronze doors, columns, tombs, as witnessed in the Hildes heim Cathedral door panels by Bishop Bern ward (1015), the Byzantine gates at Amalfi (1066), and at San Salvator, Atrani (1087), and the metal doors in San Sophia Cathedral, Nizhni-Novgorod (Russia) ; the equestrian statue of Saint George in Prague.