Arent van Bolten
Imaginary animal, ca. 1620
From the museum website
From 9 March, the Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht will be presenting the best of three centuries of Western European bronze sculpture. The 50 bronze sculptures from the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam are by Dutch, Italian and German artists, such as Verrocchio, Hendrick de Keyser, Giambologna and Adriaen de Vries. From Vulcan’s Forge refers to the Roman god of fire, Vulcan, who was smith to the gods, without whom these bronze statues would not have existed. The exhibition has been held previously in London and Vienna.
The highlights of the exhibition include a bronze candelabra made for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Burgundian statues from the tomb of Isabella of Bourbon and four bronze gargoyles in the shape of griffins (which may have come from one of the Vatican gardens). There are many mythological and heroic figures on display, as well as decorative objects and implements, such as a perfume burner and a door knocker. At the entrance to the exhibition is the eye-catching, larger-than-life Mercury and Psyche, after Adriaen de Vries.
In 2005, groundbreaking research was carried out in Switzerland through neutron radiography and tomography. This made it possible to see into the bowels of the statue. This technique has yielded a lot of new information about the period in which the statues were made, use of materials, techniques, and the changes and additions that have been made to the statues over the years. In a separate room monitors will show how these research methods are applied to bronze sculpture in practice. You can already take a digital tour through the insides of thirteen bronze statues at
The exhibition was previously shown at the prestigious London art dealer’s Daniel Katz Ltd. in 2005 and at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna in 2006. For those occasions, an English-language catalogue was published (ISBN 0-9545058-2-4, € 40). To accompany the exhibition in Maastricht, a booklet will be available in Dutch and English.