Two Bronzes

The raw material for bronze in antiquity was copper ore that, unknown to the metalworkers of the day, contained enough tin to make the alloy. In many place, bronze and copper must have been thought of as distinct metals. There was no quest for the elements and no incentive to try to separate bronze into ingredients since it was already the superior metal for so many purposes. In a few places, pure tin was smelted from its own ore, cassiterite, and, too soft for weapons and utensils, wsa formed into ornaments. Where tin and copper were obtained from separate ores, it was naturally not long before bronze was being made purposely by putting the two metals together. Once it was known that bronze could be made in this way rather than relying on ores that happened to contain the right proportions of copper and tin, the hunt was on for the miraculous metal which had the power to make copper both more useful and more beautiful.

—-Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Auguste Rodin, “Eve”

Willem de Kooning “Seated Woman”

Nasher Sculpture Center
Dallas, Texas

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