Italian Gilt Mirror

An 18th century gilded frame of Italian origin with great carving including a smiling lion’s head and a pair of dolphins. As can be seen, many of the carved elements had been broken off and some substantial parts were missing altogether. This post will focus on the largest missing part, a section of the curving vine with leaves and flowers to the right of the lion’s head.









Here I am regluing some of the detached sections. Care had to be taken so as not to damage the mirror or mar the gilded surface with the heavy clamps


Some of the missing elements in various stages of completion during carving.










The new leafy swag carved and fitted into place next to the lion.



In preparation for gilding, the newly carved sections is coated in a heavy layer of gesso, which is then recarved and smoothed to show detail, some of which is in the wooden carving and some carved directly into the gessoed surface. Here is the gesso with an initial layer of yellow clay (bole).









Layers of fine red and yellow clay mixed with glue follow the gesso stage. They will allow the gold to both adhere to the surface and take a high burnish. You can also see were I have been working on some damage to the lion just above the left eye.







The gold is applied with a gilders brush, called a tip, and then burnished to a high sheen with an agate. The newly gilt surface is much too bright and must now be patinated to blend in with the surrounding surface.


Gilding is completed. The lion has his forehead back as well.


The mirror is finished.

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