Gilding and painted finishes

The art of gilding and painting wood carvings
is a very old,
delicate craft that in the meantime, sadly, is dying out. Its origins are
in church painting and today it is practised primarily in the restoration
of historical, great buildings, such as churches and castles, but also
in the manufacture of precious frames and sculptures.

The term refers to the gilding and painting of wooden sculptures.
It is basically illusionary surface finishes. It began in the Middle
Ages with the artisan, the carving painter, taking up where the wood
carver left off by perfecting the surface: he covered the wood carving
with a chalk base, engraved and decorated the borders of garments,
applied imitation brocade, painted several layers of translucent paint,
gilded garments with gold or silver leaf and covered them with glazes.
He applied the flesh tones, the colour of the face, in several glazes,
primed tears and drops of blood.

The work was not restricted only to sculptures, but was continued in buildings, as decorative aspects of architecture, in ornamentation or techniques such as marbling or graining (faux wood).

The transition to “movable frames” meant the development of a new
sphere of activity that is still relevant today. However, being constrained
in the various possibilities afforded by the old techniques makes it
difficult for today’s gilders to find satisfactory, modern wording.

Gilding and painted finishes

There are only a few workshops where an all-round,
solid apprenticeship is guaranteed.

Agate polishing stones

Poliersteine aus Achat

Cutting at the gilder’s bench

Zuschneiden auf dem Vergolderbrett





Many steps: from wood to gold

Viele Arbeitsschritte: vom Holz zum Gold

In the workshop

Blick in die Werkstatt

Pomegranate blossom, engraving in chalk ground, gold leaf finish,
with damar resin glaze


Gold leaf