Ormolu is The most proper term used when describing bronze that has been gilded with gold. This also usually refers to "mercury gilded" or what some call in slang terms "fire gilded". Regarding bronze prior to being gilded each 18th century caster developed his own formula for A perfect ratio of componets, which he kept top secret. In general the main componet is copper, which varies between 82 and 91%.
Mercury gilding was the Finest of quality when it came to objects in bronze to be finished with gold. The process was invented during the 17th century and continued through the early to mid 19th century. A variation of the process, known as matt-gilding, was invented in the 18th century. The reason mercury gilding came about was the bronze smiths were having a difficult time finding a way to melt a layer of gold onto the bronze surface without using to much gold (being quite costly in any amount) and also trying not to re-heat the bronze work itself risking melting or dulling of the details.
The mercury process involved mixing and amalgam paste like consistency of mercury(liquid metal) and powdered gold. This was then brushed onto the bronze surface to be gilded with a wire brush and a nice even amount could be used not wasting any gold. But the real genius of the process was the entire work of art need only be heated and or "fired" at low temperatures. The original bronze work itself was not at risk for damage or melting but the temperature was hot enough to Drive away all the mercury which turned into fumes leaving only the gold on the Surface.
No other method of gilding bronze gave as rich an effect, but it was costly in human Life as well as the quantity of Gold used. The mercurous oxide fumes driven off in the process are highly noxious and in the 18th Century many workers and craftsmen perished from ‘fossy jaw', a disease caused by mercury-gilding. In 1816 Ravrio bequeathed 3,000 francs as a prize for the inventor of a process that would protect craftsmen from the harmful vapours. It was awarded to d'Arcet of the Paris mint, who devised a new type of oven. Although this altered method of mercury gilding was invented it was still harmful although not as great as in the original manor in which the craft was done. mercury gilding was eventualy outlawed and banned due to the dangerous fumes the mercury produced during the firing process.
Later methods of using electric current were developed to gild bronze objects and some exceptional items were still able to be created with rich matte gilding and burnished areas of highlight but even so the newer methods did not produce as fine a quality of gilding as the earlier examples created during the 18th century and early 19th century. The newer methods of electro gilding also used very small amounts of gold cutting the costs down greatly. This fact also played a hand in the larger amounts of gilt bronze that could be produced at lower cost starting in the mid 19th century. This also explains the Great difference in Price between Objects from the "Period" rather than in the "Style Of" which are later manufactures of Similar works with the Electro Gilding.
The word "porphyry" is derived from the Greek word porphyreos which means "having purple color". Porphyry is a dense magmatic mineral that emanated from volcanic sources 1.7 billions ago. Porphyry can be found in Sweden, France, Europe, and Egypt. Porphyry is unique and each specific stone specimen can be identified to its particular region in the world. The colors range from purple to red, brown, green, black and white all depending on its specific locale and mined area within its country.
It is a vulcanic rock and contains the three minerals quartz, feldspar and mica. On a scale of hardness of 1-10 it lies on 7. The hardness of diamond is 10. Porphyry is found in many different colour combinations.
2000 B.C. The Pharaohs worked porphyry. 300 B.C To the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Greeks purple was the royal colour, and therefor porphyry (from Greek porfyreos, purple) suited them best of all minerals. Production of porphyry objects increased. 200 B.C Cleopatra made red the royal colour instead of blue. The emperors alone were privileged to use the purple colour. Of red porphyry from the Red Sea area lots of porphyry objects such as wainscoting, flooring, sarcophagi, baths etc. were manufactured. 1500 Once again the difficulty working the hard porphyry was overcome. E.g. porphyry was used by Louis XIV in Versailles and by the cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin as a symbol of power.
Discovered almost two thousand years ago by the Romans, Blue John is a rare natural variety of Calcium Fluorite, highly distinctive and prized because of its characteristic bands of coloured veins.The only known deposit of this unusual mineral occurs in a hill to the west of Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, England, opposite the mountain known as 'Mam Tor', the shivering mountain.
The Romans settled just three miles from the area at Brough. It is likely that they were searching for deposits of lead ore and struck upon an outcrop of Blue John by chance. Being keen mineralogists, they would instantly have recognised the outstanding beauty of their find. At this time, the technology must certainly have existed to enable the complicated process of turning and polishing the stone. The principal colours are purple and white, disposed in undulating bands and usually separated by a third band, the two colours being mixed, assumed to the tint of the flame.
THE GRAND TOUR
If you had been a nobleman in the 19th and 18th century, you would have completed your education with a period of European travel. This so-called Grand Tour could last from a few months to 8 years, thus only the very wealthy, with the time and means to travel, could participate. By undertaking the Tour, young men learned about the politics, culture, and art of neighboring lands.
The primary destination of the Grand Tour was Italy, with its heritage of ancient Roman monuments. 18th-century taste revered the art and culture of the ancients. The British, in particular, were lured to Italy by their admiration of antiquity and their desire to see firsthand such monuments of ancient civilization as the Colosseum in Rome, and such wonders of nature as the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples.
While nobles came to hone their tastes by viewing the art of ancient Rome, art students from all parts of Europe also came to Italy to learn from ancient models. The art produced in Italy during the age of the Grand Tour shows close observation of the natural landscape and ancient artifacts, celebrates modern Italian customs, and commemorates the visits of wealthy patrons.
Ancient sculpture formed the centerpiece of any collection, but copies, both in large and small scale, were also common. Early private museums combined collections of manmade and natural objects. Tourists could also collect Italy itself, in miniature, through guidebooks and printed views. Sir William Hamilton published illustrated catalogues of his vase collection and a compendium of views of the volcanic landscape. Artists made their own souvenirs, carrying back sketchbooks of studies after art objects, ancient ruins, and the Italian landscape.
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