IT is because of the interest and generosity of Mr. Seymour H. Knox, Jr., and of his mother, the late Mrs. Seymour H. Knox, that this exhibition, together with its catalogue, has been made possible. Although it was two years ago when Mr. Knox first discussed with me the value of holding such an exhibition, the co-operation of the two American institutions, whose loans were so indispensable to the realization of our intentions, was not sought until last autumn. It will now be clear to those who examine these pages or, better yet, to those who visit the exhibition itself, that had it not been for the magnificent generosity of the directors, trustees and curators of both The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and of the Museum of Fine Arts of the city of Boston, no serious representation of the riches to be found in American collections of bronze statuettes could have been attempted. For it is thanks to these two institutions that we show fifty-nine of the rarest and most beautiful examples of the bronzemaker's art out of the hundred and seventy-three items here assembled.
It must be clearly realized, on the other hand, that no more than a slight indication of the treasures in bronze to be found in these and other museums is being offered by means of these borrowed masterpieces. Indeed it is hoped that this exhibition will lead people to the very collections from which so many of these objects have come and that, together with its catalogue, it may in some slight measure serve to reestablish for this sort of art the interest which it used to attract before a general preoccupation with painting diverted the attention of collector and museum visitor. Such a reawakening to their aesthetic values for our enjoyment must inevitably lead to greater interest in those outstanding collections of bronzes which are contained in the Frick Collection in New York City, the Freer Gallery in Washington, D. C., and the Walters Collection in Baltimore, Maryland, from none of whom have bronzes been loaned to the present exhibition, their respective constitutions prohibiting even a temporary transfer of material.
To those who analyze the present exhibition, it will be at once evident that I have chosen to trace the history of bronze making by means of the statuette in three dimensions, whether of animal or human form, rather than to include all of the multifarious forms in which bronzes of high artistic worth have appeared. This limitation, which has been carried even to the extreme of omitting heads in favor of full figures, has been strictly followed in order to make it possible for people to draw comparisons between objects of an outwardly similar sort. With philosophical relativism a popular approach to reality today, this decision may prove to have its merits since it suggests to thoughtful visitors the possibility of observing and contrasting products of motives as different on the one hand as that which was responsible for the creation of the Sumerian statuette with four faces, dating c. 3000-2300 B. C., to that, on the other, which resulted in the figurine by Georg Kolbe, dating from 1921 A.D.