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The Art of Translation: French Bronzes and Their Making

Date: Thursday, August 6, 2009
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall
Admission: Free; reservations required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservation" button below.

Explore the history and artistry of French bronzes of the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s—focus of the current exhibition Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution—in this free lecture by art historian Francesca G. Bewer. An expert on the complex techniques used to forge bronze sculpture, Bewer reveals the multi-faceted process by which artists translated ideas from mind to metal.

About French Bronze Sculpture
Influenced by Italian artists, the French elite of the 1600s became increasingly drawn to bronze as a material of choice for monuments. Bronze was as beautiful and expensive as it was challenging to master, and it could endure longer than marble. By the early 1700s, toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV, 30-foot-high bronze sculptures featuring the king, philosophers, and mythological figures were being erected in Paris and throughout France. The wealthy elite collected exquisitely detailed miniatures to display at home. But during the French Revolution, bronzes fell out of fashion—indeed, large-scale bronzes became a target of the angry populace, and many were destroyed. Today, these little-known sculptures are being appreciated anew for their beauty, grandeur, and technical mastery.

About Francesca G. Bewer
Francesca G. Bewer is research curator at Harvard Art Museum's Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the oldest fine arts conservation treatment, research, and training facility in the United States. One of the world's foremost experts on bronze-casting techniques, Bewer has authored and co-authored numerous books and articles on European sculpture, including studies of the work of Adriaen de Vries and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Read an article from Harvard Magazine about Dr. Bewer's research on Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise.

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