Monday, August 13, 2012

The use of Gold in Paintings

painting using gold by Gustav Klimt
The use of gold for jewellery and precious objects dates back thousands of years.

One of the earliest hoards ever discovered is the Gold of Troy hoard excavated in 1876 in Turkey and dated at around 2500BC.

Full of precious objects and jewellery, the hoard pre-dates the invention of money.

Gold is intrinsically beautiful, malleable, and easy to work with and it is easy to forget this because gold is linked so strongly to money and value.

Since its first discovery, gold has been prized highly because of its beauty and despite the fact that a lot of gold ends up as bullion bars stored in bank vaults, the basic reason it is there is because it just looks so good.

Gold is used to great effect in paintings and art. Its reflective quality has made it especially suitable for religious imagery throughout the ages often used to depict halos and the strength of Christianity.

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The use of gold in Eastern orthodox Christian imagery with its roots in the Byzantine age continues to this day providing lavish and beautiful icons that have little in common with the more austere Protestantism of northern European countries.

In paintings and decoration, gold leaf is the form most usually used.

Gold leaf is made by hammering gold into sheets until it is just a few microns thick and then carefully applied to the canvas in a process known as gilding.

Painting with gold is a specialised skill. One false move or sneeze and the artist has lost the lot!

Despite the low gold content although the purity of the gold used in art is very high the leaf is very thin, gold leaf is expensive and as a consequence is not an art medium that many artists will attempt.

Applying gold leaf is called gilding and is a process unchanged for centuries. Often used to decorate frames and furniture it is a specialised and highly skilled application.

Gold leaf is not restricted to religious imagery. Today some artists specialise in working in gold leaf.

One of the most famous gold painters in the world is was Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

The artist used gold extensively to produce pictures both rich in depth and value.

He had extremely skilled techniques honed in religious paintings, and although difficult to reproduce on line or in print he used a fantastic number of different golds in his paintings.

His most well known painting “The Kiss” depict lovers who are bathed in the light of gold.

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