Tonny Beentjes, ASH PhD candidate, will defend the dissertation entitled 'Casting Rodin’s Thinker. Sand mould casting, the case of the Laren Thinker and conservation treatment innovation' supervised by Prof. Norman Tennent and Prof. Frans Grijzenhout.
While lost wax casting of bronzes was the preferred method in Renaissance and Baroque times, the sculptor working in Western Europe between 1810-1960, often opted for an alternative method: casting using sand moulds. By the end of the nineteenth century the sand mould casting technique was so well developed that founders were capable of casting complex figurative bronze sculpture, such as Rodin’s Thinker, in one piece. This shift in the preference from lost wax towards sand mould casting during the nineteenth century is of great importance for the development of bronze casting and essential to fully understand nineteenth and early twentieth century bronze sculpture. This thesis researches the change in preference from lost wax to sand mould casting, providing a thorough understanding of the technological development of casting in sand as well as lost wax casting.
The treatment of the vandalized Thinker from the Singer museum in Laren initiated this research. The art-technological investigation of Rodin bronzes and in particular Thinkers, forms the main focus of this study. The theft, recovery and treatment were from the start a very public affair. I have looked in this thesis at the different arguments used in this discussion and reflect on this from a conservator’s and technical art-historian’s point of view.
The treatment of the Laren Thinker was also one of the earliest uses of 3D techniques for the restoration of sculpture and this thesis looks at the implications of the use of 3D techniques in conservation/restoration and gives recommendations for best practice.