by Carol C. Mattusch. J. Paul Getty Museum, July 2014. 272 p. ill. ISBN 9781606063262 (pbk.), $30.00.
Reviewed November 2014
Olivia Miller, Public Services Librarian, James Addison Jones Library, Greensboro College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Mattusch is not new to the topic of classical bronzes. This is made clear with the thoughtful yet broad approach taken to bronze as a material in Enduring Bronze. Her previous two works in this subject, Greek Bronze Statuary: From the Beginnings through the Fifth Century B.C. (1988) and Classical Bronzes: The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary (1996) take detailed technical looks at primarily bronze statuary.
Her new book focuses on the variety of items made with bronze and the difficulties in uncovering their original purposes. Showing a fascination and appreciation for the mystery surrounding all classical bronze works, Mattusch writes clearly and concisely and grounds her arguments in observation and contemporary primary sources.
The book functions well as a brief yet informative introduction to the composition of bronze as an alloy. Mattusch touches on the style and technique for items such as mirrors, tripod caldrons, metal vases, statuaries, and more. This provides a unique look at works other than the commonly studied statues.
Other chapters cover bronzes from the perspective of vase paintings and contemporary writings, Athens as a case-study, the art market, and manufacture, market, and display in Rome. This provides an excellent example of the process of uncovering how these items could have originally been created and used.
As typical of Getty Publications, the book itself is designed and produced beautifully. Every illustration is full color with the exception of a few black-and-white diagrams. An index is provided, as well as a list of suggested readings that includes the abbreviations used for the primary sources referred to in-text.
The size of this paperback makes it easily portable, yet susceptible to the wears and tears of a paperback book. The spine and edges of the book will show heavy use. On pages opposite of full image pages, the coloring has worn off after a couple weeks of carrying it around.
This book would be an asset to an academic or museum library with collection interests in classical art or metalwork. Undergraduates and even seasoned academics in art history and archaeology would benefit from this broad overview of bronze as a material and what it has been used to make.