A Life with the Bronze
One of masters who most influenced me during my art education was Francesco Bruni. He was also one of the most influential mentors for my father Romolo when he began his career as mouldmaker besides a lot of sculptors and artists here in Rome.
Francesco was a famous and very skilled bronze founder. A serious man with his work, demanding, very diligent, that might seem austere. But with very good friends he used to have great sensitivity and selflessness. Francesco gives to my father lots of important tips and recommendations so they established a good partnership which lasted decades.
So, during my childhood I was widely enriched by frequent visits at the extraordinary Bruni’s Art Foundry which looked at my eyes as a sacred place…
Francesco Bruni (1923-2013) was born in a family of art founders. His grandfather Francesco Bruni (who have the same name) opened his foundry in the heart of Rome, near Piazza del Popolo, in 1873. The foundry then moved in the present University area and then moved in a suburb area near the roman aqueducts of Appia Antica.
Then, after several years, the foundry passed under the hands of his son Arturo Bruni (1922-1970, father of Francesco), where Francesco as child began his apprenticeship since was 12 years old. Arturo worked for many important artists as Emilio Greco, Mirko Basaldella, J.E. Fraser and Attilio Selva for who casted in bronze the gate of the Fosse Ardeatine Memorial Holocaust in Rome.
In 1961 Francesco Bruni graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in via di Ripetta. The relationship with his father was not good, he considered work differently. Francesco was looking for cleanliness, full attention to technique, he was looking for perfection. So, in 1963 opened his own foundry. And then moved in a building specifically designed as artistic place, professionally organized, in Ciampino, via Appia Nuova, just few kilometers not far from my house and actual Studio and Workshop.
The foundry was perfectly organized and had an intelligent division of all work areas. Every great hall housed a type of work on the technical sequence of the phases of bronze casting.
All bronzes casted by Bruni’s foundry were recognized as examples of quality, and lot of artists came from all over the world to cast their sculptures. Through the experience of skilled craftsmen founders, the Bruni’s foundry for many decades was considered the best in Italy, receiving numerous awards and official honors, and particularly appreciated in the whole world where many works were exported.
The Bruni Foundry worked on several famous monuments all over the world. Worked for most famous sculptor like Elbert Weinberg, Hazi Dimitri, Robert Cook, Shinsuke Yamamoto, Joan Fitzgerald, Bahaman Mohassess, Vittorio di Cobertaldo, Lello Scorzelli, Attilio Selva, Americo Tot, Jacques Lipschitz. Even though I was only eight years old, I remember the realization of the great monument Our Tree of Life by Lipschitz (casted five years after his death in 1978). I was impressed and intrigued and also strongly attracted by the giant sculpture that had forced my father and all the other craftsmen in great efforts for its realization.
The Bruni’s foundry followed rigid rule linked to the tradition of Italian foundries. Francesco, who learned from ancient founders, wanted to preserve the traditional technique of artistic bronze casting, that real, that authentic one. No ceramic castings, no sand castings but only lost wax casting just like the great artists done from ancient times in the Greek, Roman era, and Renaissance until to present days.
Francesco Bruni decided to close the business in 1985 for personal reasons. So, with great regret of many artists one of best ever italian art foundries closed forever the door.
The Master retired in a sea town on the Tuscan coast devoted to teaching to young art students, but he left a great bronze casting manual that would be extremely valuable and precious to all those who want make their sculptures in great quality bronze casting.
In his book ‘La Fusione Artistica a Cera Persa’, as a kind of testament, Bruni reveals all secrets, every trick, tips and method of working. Starting from the molding in plaster to molding and casting the wax model (sections curated by Romolo Felice). Also the choice of the raw metal, the type of furnaces, until the chiseling and the making of different patinas. Each step is carefully explained and described from a very long experience by the words of a great craftsman.
Francesco Bruni, La Fusione Artistica a Cera Persa. Apeiron Editori, 2004. It.