Art Term

Patina

The word patina usually refers to a distinct green or brown surface layer on bronze sculpture

Sir Jacob Epstein, ‘Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree’ 1915
Sir Jacob Epstein
Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree 1915
Tate
© The estate of Sir Jacob Epstein
Bernard Meadows, ‘Large Flat Bird’ 1957
Bernard Meadows
Large Flat Bird 1957
Tate
© The estate of Bernard Meadows
Constantin Brancusi, ‘Maiastra’ 1911
Constantin Brancusi
Maiastra 1911
Tate
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017

Patina can be created naturally by the oxidising effect of the atmosphere or weather, or artificially by the application of chemicals. Almost all bronze sculpture has been patinated one way or the other but Constantin Brancusi polished his bronzes to reveal the beautiful natural gold colour of the metal.