commissioning a portrait

Making a portrait sculpture in bronze involves two separate stages.The first stage is the building up of a clay model. This is best achieved by asking the subject to ‘sit’; perhaps six or seven sittings of two hours each. Detailed measurements and a series of photographs are also taken at the start which can be used to continue the work on the model between sittings.

In the case of posthumous portraits, and for small children, it is also possible to complete a model from photographs alone. Once the modelling is complete the client makes a decision as to whether they wish to continue to the next stage. If not, the commission can be abandoned with no further outlay or obligation.

If the client is happy to go ahead, the finished clay model can then move to the second stage where it is put in the hands of specialists at an art foundry. The transfer from clay to bronze involves a number of processes. It includes the making of a mould from which is produced a hollow wax replica of the original clay.

This is then used in the traditional ‘lost wax process’ to create the bronze.

After cleaning and colouring, the finished bronze is finally secured to its base, often of stone, marble or wood.

The price of a portrait head will depend on the size and complexity of the subject and the material to be used to cast the piece (bronze, bronze resin or plaster). The agreed price includes the artist’s fee, the foundry fee, the cost of sculpting materials, and photography. Travel and overnight expenses, where this is necessary, are additional but will be agreed with the client in advance. The cost of the base, if required, will be quoted for separately and again will depend upon the size, design and the material used.