Water gilding

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A technique for the application of Gold leaf. Used since the 12th century, water gilding was one of the major gilding techniques used for decorating medieval manuscripts and for preparing gold backgrounds on icons and altarpieces. The surface is typically prepared with a layer of size and ground, followed by a red or yellow Bole layer. After drying, the bole layer is remoistened with water or alcohol and glue then the thin gold leaf is applied. Capillary action draws the water into the bole and holds the gold leaf in place as the bole dries. After drying, the gold is burnished to a bright, shiny finish.

Synonyms and Related Terms

water gilt

Resources and Citations

  • P.T.Craddock, "Gilding", The Dictionary of Art Grove's Dictionaries, New York, 1996.
  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996 Comment: P.T.Craddock, "Gilding"
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • ArtLex Art Dictionary at www.artlex.com

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