Design History


Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in 3D. It has a long and varied history ranging from Ancient Greece and Rome up to the present day. There are a variety of materials used by sculptors but stone is the most durable and visible in society today.

The western tradition began in Ancient Greece in classical period. There was a revival during the Renaissance – Michaelangelo’s David began a prime example from this period. Origins back into pre-history with surviving portable sculptures. Gundestrup cauldron- Iron Age (Denmark)

Many modernist movements e.g. cubism/de stiji/futurism move away from the traditional – Henry Moore, Picasso early 20th century. In the late 1950s-60s abstract new materials and approaches were introduced – Sir Anthony Caro. Barbara Hepworth – modernist sculptor.

Regional variations with both wood and stone. Marble in Italy exported to Europe 1550+ it was used for figurative and ornamental architectural work. Wood – altarpiece (north europe) was most important. Sculptors- Rysbrack/Roubiliac 18th century.

13th to 18th centuries sculptors and other craftsmen were regulated by guilds. 17th and 18th centuries academies were setup throughout Europe. Pointing- method of making enlarged/reduced copies from a 3D model.

Terracotta sketch model – used to record and develop initial ideas of a sculptor. Can also be made in clay unique piece or out into mould to produce multiple copies.

Ironwork has been used since prehistoric times, but during Roman times was very important as it was seen a precious metal even more so than silver. (Pliny AD23-79). Wrought iron, cast iron, blacksmithery (need to look these up for more details)

Bronze was usually reserved for statues of Gods- Hercules was a popular subject. Inspired since the Renaissance – e.g. Michelangelo bronze of Pope Julius II. Also in memorial sculpture, portrait busts, funerary monuments.