A bronze sculpture on a marble base depicting a farmers wife, after Jean-Baptiste Germain (1841-1910), France.
Bronze sculptures are often called simply a ‘bronze’, just because this metal is used most for sculptures. The choice for bronze arises from the desirable and advantageous assets of expanding a bit before it sets. In such this way, the finest details of a mould will be filled with bronze to create the best sculptures. Even more advantage is the property of shrinking when it cools, making it easier to separate from the detailed mould. A number of distinct casting processes are used for making bronzes. Lost-wax casting, sand casting and centrifugal casting are the most used casting methods.
Nowadays, bronze is still a precious metal and could easily be stolen to be melted down. During the first and second world war, a lot of sculptures were melted down to make weapons or ammunition. Luckily a generous number of sculptures were preserved in museums and in private collections. Possibly the first bronze ever made (and preserved) dates back from 2300-1750 BCE and it is held by the national museum in New Delhi.
Many different bronze alloys exist. The most common alloy for bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Classic and statuary bronze consists mostly of 90% copper and 10 % tin. The term bronze is tending to be regarded in museums and replaced in descriptions as ‘a copper alloy’, mostly seen for older objects
The word after is often used in museums, art galleries and antique stores. The meaning is very simple, it is a copy of that specific artist’s work where the word ‘after’ is placed before or after the artist’s name. It is very important not to forget that the word ‘after’ has nothing to do with ‘faking’ the artist’s work.
An (unknown) artist can paint a copy of a famous work which is exhibited in a museum. This copy if not a fake, because the (unknown) artist is not claiming to be the original artist of the work. When the (unknown) artist wants to sell his own copy, the word ‘after’ is placed before or after the original artist’s work. Now, the work is not a fake, but a nicely made copy.
Using the word ‘after’ for copies has already been done for centuries. But there are different levels of ‘afters’. An ‘after’ can already be an ‘after’ when an (unknown) artist is copying in 2020 the work ‘The starry night’ by Van Gogh. The (unknown) artist is far removed from the original artist by time and association. A very high level of an ‘after’ is when the original artist is involved or approves the ‘after’. Even an original signature by the original artist can be placed on the ‘after’.
Even tough an ‘after’ is a copy, the value and quality can still be very high and ‘afters’ will stay highly collectible.
Jean-Baptiste Germain (1841-1910)
Jean-Baptiste Germain was born on 28 December 1841 in Fismes (France) and died on 23 September 1910. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (Paris) under the sculptors Charles-Alphonse Guméry (1827-1871) and Auguste Dumont (1801-1884). He exhibited in the Parisian Salon from 1866 to 1909.