Dating bronze statues
His ultimate quest was to create images of the most beautiful and heroic males possible, in homage to God, the ultimate creator, and to rival the achievements of the greatest artists of the Classical world.
Of all Michelangelo’s graphic renderings of the heroic male nude, it is those he made in the first decade of the sixteenth century, which relate most closely to the naked bronze riders of the Rothschild groups.
The significance of the site was first revealed during a dig in 2012, but the first-ever comprehensive report was published late last month in the 100th edition of the Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient (BEFEO), a journal that has reported the major archaeological finds of Angkor since 1901. Martin Polkinghorne – who co-authored the report – and a team from the APSARA National Authority and École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) were there excavating what they believed was a stone workshop, a site originally found in 1926 by EFEO conservator Henri Marchal.
They collected evidence of stone-making, but they found other things too: half-finished bronze sculptures, hefty furnaces, fragments of unused metal and weighty crucibles that could hold up to two litres of molten bronze.
Heads There are many drawings and sketches of heads by Michelangelo, or his followers, which may be usefully compared to the Rothschild bronzes.
Significantly, the most relevant appear to have been produced between c.150 .
A date for the groups before rather than after 1530 is more probable.
Emotionally, too, the groups fit more readily into Michelangelo’s youth.
This workshop near Angkor Thom, which the team estimates could be as long as a kilometre, suggests that the fabrication, or at least a large percentage of it, was centralised and industrial. Bronze statues were highly valued in Angkorian times, Polkinghorne said.
Their torsos are subdivided into more or less discrete parts with the stomach muscles, rib cage, and breast bone comprising a related series of unities.