All About Maquettes

November 17, 2016


                  Painted Goddess Clay Maquette                   Painted Goddess Final Bronze 

Creating a work of art, no matter the form, is a process involving several steps.  Whether it be a stone sculpture, bas-relief portrait or a bronze sculpture they all require vision and planning. This is where many sculptors utilize the making of a maquette to help them execute the larger piece. The term maquette may already sound familiar. Blogs such as Chief Joseph Bronze Sculpture, Behind the Scenes: Casting Bronze Sculptures  and Marble Sculptures Part II have all mentioned maquettes. What are maquettes? Why do artists use them?  And what are they made of? 

Why Artists Make Maquettes 

By definition, a maquette is usually a small preliminary model, as of a sculpture or a building. They are generally intended to serve as rough models of larger designs. Sculptors use maquettes to help them conceptualize their project. This helps in working out any issues that may occur when sculpting the larger piece.

For people who have commissioned a sculpture, or prospective clients, maquettes are helpful visual aides. By showing clients a small scale model of the project you are able to make adjustments to the sculpture if necessary. It is also easier for people to visualize the finished piece with a three-dimensional model versus a sketch.

How are Maquettes Constructed?

Constructed from a wide range of materials, maquettes can me made from paper, clay, wax, or cardboard. The small sized model doesn’t have to be an exact representation of the final product. It can be as well crafted as needed, or just a rough model intended to show proportions and shape. The materials and details of the maquette depend on the project and the artist's intent. Because of the number of materials and uses for a maquette, constructing it will depend on these variables.

Why Make a Maquette?

There are multiple reasons why artists construct a maquette before tackling a project. For stonework artists, where it is a matter of removing stone, having a defined path might help eliminate costly mistakes. Or for an artist preparing a bronze portrait the clay model is the first step towards the finished project.

As mentioned earlier, a maquette is also helpful when working on a commissioned piece. The small model allows clients to visualize the final work and give feedback. It also saves money on materials, rather than build something large and expensive for a client.

All About Maquettes!

One thing to keep in mind is that the maquette is a part of the creative process. Whether a rough model or a detailed clay figure, it allows the artist to complete their vision. Though some maquettes may be rough in a form they are all a work of art in their own respect.