Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Metal Composition Hold Key To Identity Of Modern Sculptures

Date:
July 31, 2009
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Alloying elements in bronze sculptures give clues about artist, date, origin and authenticity. How do you tell when, where and how a Picasso or a Matisse sculpture was cast? Could bronze sculptures have their very own DNA? By linking data from the alloy composition of modern sculptures with parameters from art history, researchers have classified the unique composition profiles of cast bronze sculptures by major European artists of the first half of the 20th century, profiles which could be used as another method to identify, date and even authenticate sculptures.

Alloying elements in bronze sculptures give clues about artist, date, origin and authenticity.

How do you tell when, where and how a Picasso or a Matisse sculpture was cast? Could bronze sculptures have their very own DNA? By linking data from the alloy composition of modern sculptures with parameters from art history, Dr. Marcus Young from Northwestern University together with collaborators from the Art Institute of Chicago, have classified the unique composition profiles of cast bronze sculptures by major European artists of the first half of the 20th century, profiles which could be used as another method to identify, date and even authenticate sculptures. Their findings1 are published online in Springer's journal, Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry.

Bronzes are copper alloys containing various amounts of tin, zinc and other metals whose presence alter the alloy's melting temperature, the strength and hardness of the sculpture, its resistance to corrosion, and its color and patination. The foundries of the early 20th century were quite secretive about the bronze composition they used to prevent other foundries from producing a superior product, suggesting that alloy composition may be sufficient to identify which foundry cast a particular sculpture. In addition, not all the sculptures carry a foundry mark or have documentary evidence to identify where and when they were cast. An in-depth knowledge of bronze composition is therefore important to the art historian and connoisseur studying 20th century sculpture and trying to address questions of authenticity, origin and artist intention.

Dr. Young used a form of optical emission spectroscopy (ICP - OES) to determine the metal composition of 62 modern bronze sculptures cast in Paris in the first half of the 20th century, from the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Included were sculptures by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Rodin, among other masters. This study is the first comprehensive survey of the alloy composition of a large number of modern sculptures by many different artists and foundries, spanning a half century.

The researchers showed that the sculptures consist of copper, with zinc and tin as major alloying elements, varying over a broad range of compositions. They were able to group the sculptures into three distinct types: high-zinc brass*, low-zinc brass* and copper-tin bronze. These three groups show good correlations with the artist, the foundry, the casting date and the casting method. For example, the high-zinc brass alloys correspond to most of the Picasso sculptures cast in lost-wax at the Valsuani foundry post World War II.

The authors conclude that "By expanding the ICP-OES database of objects studied, these material correlations may become useful for identifying, dating or possibly even authenticating other bronzes that do not bear foundry marks."

*Brass: a copper-zinc alloy


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Young et al. Matisse to Picasso: a compositional study of modern bronze sculptures. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2009; DOI: 10.1007/s00216-009-2938-y

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Metal Composition Hold Key To Identity Of Modern Sculptures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730074336.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2009, July 31). Metal Composition Hold Key To Identity Of Modern Sculptures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730074336.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Metal Composition Hold Key To Identity Of Modern Sculptures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090730074336.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

Iconic 'Easy Rider' Chopper Bike to Go on Auction Block

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) The iconic Harley-Davidson motorbike ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic "Easy Rider" is to go under the hammer in California, and auctioneers predict it will make at least $1 million. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) Egypt's antiquities minister denied Tuesday claims that the Djoser pyramid, the country's first, had been damaged during restoration work by a company accused of being unqualified to do such work. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) King Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and now researchers examining his skull think they know how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins