A small but impressive sculpture of an old man on a marble base, made by Olivier Piette (1885-1948).
Olivier Piette was born in 1885 in Ghent and was primarily active as a stonemason in the early 20th century. Piette was studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and developed during that period an art deco style of sculpturing. During the first world war, Piette volunteered and helped wherever he could. Volunteering in the war was his passion and he even made his own grave monument. Olivier Piette rests now at the Wester cemetery in Ghent under his own work named ‘war memorial for the dead in Ghent’. His work can still be found in that cemetery, Lane E, grave C31
This sculpture made by Olivier Piette has been cast by foundry Vindevogel, established in Zwijnaarde (nearby Ghent, Belgium). Foundry Vindevogel was a renowned bronze foundry and run by the equally named family of one father and his two sons. Son Achiel Vindevogel (1911-1984) and son Geo Vindevogel (1923-1977) worked for several years together with their father Karel Vindevogel on known art pieces and monuments such as ‘the first step in life’. Works can be found in the Citadel Park and on the Fratersplein (both in Ghent, Belgium).
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.