Mosaic gold

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1) A yellow, metallic pigment composed of stannic sulfide. Mosaic gold was used as an inexpensive gold-like pigment in manuscripts and gilding as early as the 13th century. It was replaced by bronze powders in the middle of the 19th century. Mosaic gold has been found by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on a 15th c. Florentine terra cotta (MFA report 2006). It was also documented by the National Gallery on a 15th c. Florentine painting (Dunkerton and Syson, 2010).

2) The name mosaic gold has also been used incorrectly to refer to ormolu.

3) The name mosaic gold has also been used for a brass alloy composed of copper (63.5%) and zinc (34.7%).

Synonyms and Related Terms

artificial gold; ouro musivo (Port.); tin bronze; stannic sulfide; tin disulfide; aurum mosaicum; cat's gold; mock gold; porporini; purpurino; purpurinus

Other Properties

1. Lightfast. Soluble in alkalis. Insoluble in acids.

Composition SnS2

Additional Information

° Dunkerton, J., Syson, L. 2010. 'In Search of Verrocchio the Painter: The Cleaning and Examination of 'The Virgin and Child with Two Angels'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 31, pp 4–41. [1][link]

° MFA Scientific research report 2006-48 on 'Saint Mary Magdalen surrounded by Angels' MFA 95.1377.

° J.Ross "A Note on the Use of Mosaic Gold" Studies in Conservation, 18:174-176, 1973.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: p. 132
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 610
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996

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