Western Bronzes

Exhibition of Bronze Sculptures of the European countries from the collection at the Salar Jung Museum

Christ and the Twelve Disciples (circa 1450-1500) by UnknownLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Art and Civilization

The need to create is part of being human. Since pre-historic times, human civilizations have found itself using the available resources to create art that stirs emotions within or document ways of living.  

Diana and Callisto (circa 1690-1695) by Ignaz ElhafenLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Sculptures – A form of art

Sculptures are considered as 3D form of art made via carving, casting,  modelling or constructing materials.

However, a statue carved of stone or metal was considered as a piece of art only after the 15th century.

Limestone statue of a husband and wife, -1300/-1250, From the collection of: British Museum
Andromeda and the Sea-Monster; Leda and the Swan, Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, designed before 1717; cast about 1725, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
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Pan Pursuing Syrinx (circa 1690-1695) by Ignaz ElhafenLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Why are Sculptures important?

Sculptures are prime evidences of artistic creations of the lost civilizations. The origin of sculptures is traced back to Egypt and Greece. An array of art movements from Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococco, Neo-classicism, modern etc. were witnessed in sculptures.

The Thinker The Thinker (modeled ca. 1880, cast ca. 1910) by Auguste Rodin|Alexis RudierThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bronze – an ideal medium for sculpting

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. Humans first discovered the use of bronze around 5000 years ago, in an era called Bronze Age (3300 BCE –1200 BC) for making tools. With time, given its versatility, rich coloring and fluidity it became a favorable medium for artists alike.

By Dmitri KesselLIFE Photo Collection

Hellenistic Phase of Sculpture

Hellenism (neoclassicism), an aesthetic  movement in 18th and 19th century England and Germany involved imitation of ancient Greek culture.  In this phase, sculptors pursued naturalism with three major characteristics – expressive movement, realistic anatomy and ornate details

The Risen Christ (1673-1674 (Baroque)) by Gian Lorenzo BerniniThe Walters Art Museum

Renaissance Phase of Sculpture

The Renaissance Period is considered as the rebirth of Classical antiquity in Italy spanning from the 15th century to the 17th century which later spread through other parts of the world. Sculptors created works of classical antiquity with a new humanistic view.

Art In Action Exhibit (1941-03) by Peter StackpoleLIFE Photo Collection

Custom of Replicas

Humanity is obsessed with acquiring ancient works of art. Cultivated Athenians discussed sculptures in great detail and wrote documents in its admiration leading to formation of art history. This encouraged making of replicas with all the details available for the contemporary. 

Sculpture Gallery (1901/1999)Salar Jung Museum

Collection of Bronze Sculptures at the Salar Jung Museum

The museum is fortunate to have a wide and dynamic collection of bronze sculptures from all across the world dating to various time periods and art movements. The sculpture collection can be traced back to the Romasque, Hellenistic, modernism and Renaissance phases of making. 

Laocoon and his sons (1901/1999) by Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus (Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Laocoon and his two sons

A bronze copy of one of the most famous ancient sculptures from the Hellenistic phase of art. Its original was made in stone, dated 50 B.C. by three Rhodian sculptors.  

The group sculpture describes the destruction of the priest Laocoon and his two sons by serpents. This fate befell Laocoon in his effort to forestall the fate of the city of Troy.

Venus De Milo (1901/1999) by Alexandros (Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Venus De Milo

A bronze copy of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love also known as Venus by Romans. Its original was made in marble by Alexandros, a sculptor of Antioch. It was found in pieces on the Aegean island of Melos  and donated to the Louvre Museum in 1821. 

The sculpture depicts Goddess Venus standing semi-nude with modernized academic drapery and without arms. It is one of most famous sculptures of Hellenistic phase. No arms adds to its charms, popularity and evaluation.  

Thorn Extractor (1901/1999) by Gustav Eberlein (Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Thorn Extractor

A bronze copy of a naked boy, seated on a rock pulling a thorn out of his left foot.  Its original was made in bronze by Gustav Eberlein.  This statue is an example of the Hellenistic phase in sculptures. 

Mercury on flight (1859/1859) by Main Artist - Giovanni da Bologna. Copied by Barbedienne Fondeur, 1859Salar Jung Museum

Mercury on Flight

Messenger of gods represented as a nude, muscular man with wings on his ankles. He balances on the toes of one foot as the other leg and one arm raised up. He holds a scepter tucked near his side. 

A bronze copy of an original ‘Flying Mercury’ created in the 16th century by Jean  Boulogne, also known as Giovanni da Bologna. 

Three Graces (1801/1899) by Germain Pilon (Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Three Graces

It represents daughters of Greek god Zeus supporting an urn. A bronze copy of an original made in marble by Germain Pilon. The original piece was commissioned by Catherine de Medici to store the ashes of King Henri II of France (1519-59). 

Three female figures marvelously balance the urn on their heads.

Dancing figure (1801/1899)Salar Jung Museum

Fisherman Dancing

It represents a young fisherman doing Tarantella Dance. It is signed F. Duret on the pedestal. Francisque Joseph Duret was a French sculptor. This statue depicts a man in a dancing posture with his hands above his hand holding clappers.

Eros and Psyche (1801/1899) by Antonia Canova.(Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Eros and Psyche

It represents a popular tale from Greek Mythology where Psyche was revived by Cupid’s kiss. This bronze statue is an adaptation of an original work in marble by Antonia Canova. It represents a moment of great emotion and energy. 

Bust of a Lady (1910/1910) by D.A. PonzoSalar Jung Museum

Bust of a Lady

English sculptures of the early 20th century showcased a preference for both bronze and marble combination. This statue is a masterpiece by D.A. Ponzo, made in Europe. The lady is carved in marble while her attire is casted from bronze.   

Howling Stag (1901/1999) by Josef Franz PallenbergSalar Jung Museum

Howling Stag

The sculpture here is a hollow cast of a howling stag standing on a rectangular base.  It is sculpted by popularly acclaimed animal portraitist Josef Franz Pallenberg (1822 – 1946).  

Franz started sketching at an early age and later trained as a sculptor under Karl Jansseen. In 1912, he established a private zoo in his new Studio at Düsseldorf to study animals. 

Last Supper (1901/1999) by Leonardo Da Vinci (Copy)Salar Jung Museum

Last Supper Plaque

A bronze plaque depicting  the final meal shared by Jesus and his disciples. It is inspired by a famous wall mural by Leonardo Da Vinci. Embossed figures of Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples are framed inside a wooden structure.

Augustus of Prima Porta (1801/1899)Salar Jung Museum

Augustus of Prima Porta

A bronze copy of an original marble sculpture excavated at the Villa of Livia owned by Augustus’ third wife, Livia Drusilla in Prime Porta in 1863. The statue is an idealized image of Augustus showing a standard pose of a Roman orator.

Wrestlers (1901/1999)Salar Jung Museum


It depicts two men engaged in the pankration style of wrestling, a sporting event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BC. This sculpture is a bronze copy based on 3rd century BCE Greek original, which was lost in antiquity.

Credits: Story

Text and Curation: Pallavi Baheti
Photography: M. Krishnamurthy and Bahadur Ali
Research Assistance: Dinesh Singh
Project Direction : Dr. A. Nagender Reddy, Director,  Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, India.
Special thanks:  Soma Ghosh, Librarian

References –
1)      B.Kotaiah (1986), A Hand Book of Western Arts, Salar Jung Museum Board
2)      Taschen (1991), Sculpture: The Great Art of Antiquity from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD
3)      Draper, J. D., October 2002, Bronze Sculpture in the Renaissance, The MET Museum
4)      Kelly Richman (2019), How the Natural Beauty of Hellenistic Sculpture Has Captivated the World for Centuries, My Modern Met  

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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