Roman Bronze Works

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Roman Bronze Works, now operated as Roman Bronze Studios, is a bronze foundry in New York City. Established in 1897 by Riccardo Bertelli, it was the first American foundry to specialize in the lost-wax casting method,[1] and was the country's pre-eminent art foundry during the American Renaissance (ca. 1876-1917).[citation needed]


Bertelli was a chemical engineer from Genoa who combined his skill in chemistry with his interest in art in starting a foundry.[2] The foundry trademarked its namesake, Roman Bronze Works in 1900.[3]

In 1908, the foundry built a home and studio for sculptor Harry Merwin Shrady at White Plains, New York. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 as the Leo Friedlander Studio.[4]

Long a sub-contractor to Louis Comfort Tiffany's Tiffany Studios, the foundry moved in 1927 to Tiffany's red brick factory in Corona, Queens, New York.[5]

The foundry's mold makers, casters, chasers and finishers, and patinaters cast sculptures from plaster and terra cotta models provided by sculptors. They also scaled down monumental and other finished works for editions of collectors' bronzes, allowing works by Daniel Chester French, Augustus Lukeman [6] and Augustus Saint-Gaudens to ornament a private library or drawing room.

From 1898, Frederic Remington worked exclusively with Roman Bronze Works, as did Charles M. Russell. Remington bronzes were being cast by Roman Bronze Works as late as the 1980s.[7]

Roman Bronze Works was purchased in 1946 by Salvatore Schiavo, whose father had worked at the foundry since 1902. His nephew, Philip J. Schiavo, the grandson of the first Schiavo, was the president of the foundry until its closing.[7]

The Heisman Trophy was originally made by Dieges & Clust in New York (and later Providence, Rhode Island) from its inception in 1935 until 1980, when Dieges and Clust was sold to Herff Jones.[citation needed] However, for a time until at least 2008, the Roman Bronze Works cast the Heisman Trophy statues awarded annually to the best college football player and his university.[8]

After the foundry closed, original plaster models of major works by American artists Frederic Remington, Daniel Chester French, Charles Russell, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Anna Hyatt Huntington were auctioned off in New York on September 17, 1988.[9] Some of the molds were moved to warehouses in Copiague, New York, under the aegis of American Art Restoration, Inc.[10]

The business archives were preserved and are now at the Amon Carter Museum Library in Fort Worth, Texas.[11] In 2002, Schiffer Publishing released a book about Roman Bronze Works, A Century of American Sculpture; The Roman Bronze Works Foundry, written by Lucy D. Rosenfeld and based on the firm's ledgers and archival photographs at the museum.

Brian Ramnarine, who worked at Roman Bronze Works and opened his foundry in Queens (Long Island City) NY under the name Empire Bronze Art Foundry, was charged in Manhattan Federal Court in November 2012 with an $11 million scheme to sell an unauthorized casting of a work by Jasper Johns.[12][13][14] He was arraigned in October 2002 on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and criminal simulation. In February 2003 he pled guilty to making unauthorized copies of sculptures, agreeing to pay $100,000 in restitution.[15]

Notable works[edit]


Artists who had works cast by the Roman Bronze Works include:[16]


Roman Bronze Works had significant partnerships with the following artists:

  • Frederic Remington- Although uncertain, Roman Bronze Works partnership with Frederic Remington is thought to have begun around 1901 with the creation of The Cheyenne. This marked a move from the sand process casts of the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company to the lost-wax casting method used by Roman Bronze Works.[17] Remington and Bertelli had a close relationship as expressed in Remington's continual presence at the foundry. Remington was often called to examine new models and to retouch the designs when necessary.[17] Roman Bronze Works continued to create works after his death. After his and his wife's death, surmoulages were created using both original bronzes and replicas.[17]
  • Charles M. Russell
  • Tiffany Studios


  1. ^ Metropolitan Museum of Art: American bronze casting
  2. ^ Greenbaum, Michael D. (1996). Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture. Frederic Remington Museum of Art. p. 220. ISBN 0965105008.
  3. ^ Roman Bronze Works: An Important Grouping of Plasters and Bronzes from America's Foremost Foundry. Guernsey's. 1988. p. 10.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  5. ^ Christpher Gray, " Streetscapes: Tiffany Studios; In Queens, a Remembrance of a Luminous Legend" New York Times, 27 December 1987. Accessed 25 September 2008.
  6. ^ American Archives, Smithsonian
  7. ^ a b Rita Reif.
  8. ^ Johnston, Joey (December 14, 2008). "Winning One Heisman Is Tough Enough, And Tebow Has His". Tampa Tribune.
  9. ^ Rita Reif, "Auctions", New York Times, 16 September 1988 Accessed 25 September 2008.
  10. ^ dialogue
  11. ^ Amon Carter Museum Archives
  12. ^ U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York. "Queens Foundry Owner Charged in Manhattan Federal Court with $11 Million Scheme to Sell Fake Jasper Johns Sculpture". US Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  13. ^ Cohen, Patricia. "Authorities Cast Queens Foundry Owner as Forger". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  14. ^ Gearty, Robert (Nov 15, 2012). "Queens man tried to sell fake Jasper Johns sculpture for $11 million: prosecutors". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Lee, Tien-Shun. "LIC sculptor pleads guilty to forging original pieces". Times Ledger. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  16. ^!42~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!siartinventories&term=Roman+Bronze+Works%2C+founder.&index=AUTHOR
  17. ^ a b c Shapiro, Michael Edward (1981). Cast and Recast: The sculpture of Frederic Remington. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 127.

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