ObeliskMediums
, An Apostle

Gold Leaf

— When you need a little shine in your life

Gold is considered a divinely valuable material in nearly every culture on earth, and luckily for artists, it’s extremely malleable. Gold leafing is the practice of hammering out extremely thin sheets of gold, down to .1 or .2 microns, and using it to coat objects, or apply to an image, and artists and craftsman have been doing it for millennia.

Ancient Egyptians lined their pharaoh’s tombs with gold leaf. Greek sculptures clothed the chrysoelephantine statues in gold garments and armed them with gold-leafed swords. In the Middle Ages, monastic scribes emblazoned hand-copied bibles with gold-leaf illustrations, and even more recent artists like Gustav Klimt have added gold to their paintings for that glossy hint of the divine.

Reed Enger, "Gold Leaf, When you need a little shine in your life," in Obelisk Art History, Published April 03, 2015; last modified July 20, 2019, http://arthistoryproject.com/mediums/gold-leaf/.

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Kushite priest wearing leopard's head, Kingdom of Kush

Kushite priest wearing leopard's head

712 BCE-664 BCE
Qur'an leaf in Kufic script, Islamic Dynastic Art

Qur'an leaf in Kufic script

900 CE
Scivias 2.1: The Redeemer, Hildegard von Bingen

Scivias 2.1: The Redeemer

Hildegard von Bingen, 1150
Scivias I.6: Humanity and Life, Hildegard von Bingen

Scivias I.6: Humanity and Life

Hildegard von Bingen, 1150
Scivias I.6: The Choirs of Angels, Hildegard von Bingen

Scivias I.6: The Choirs of Angels

Hildegard von Bingen, 1150
Scivias I.3: God, Cosmos, and Humanity, Hildegard von Bingen

Scivias I.3: God, Cosmos, and Humanity

Hildegard von Bingen, 1165
Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 1: Theophany of Divine Love, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 1: Theophany of Divine Love

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 2: The Cosmic Spheres and Human Being, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 2: The Cosmic Spheres and Human Being

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 3: Macrocosm of Winds, Microcosm of Humors, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 3: Macrocosm of Winds, Microcosm of Humors

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 4: Cosmos, Body, and Soul, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 1, Vision 4: Cosmos, Body, and Soul

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 2, Vision 1: The Parts of the Earth: Living, Dying, and Purgatory, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 2, Vision 1: The Parts of the Earth: Living, Dying, and Purgatory

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 1: The City of God and the Mirror of the Angels, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 1: The City of God and the Mirror of the Angels

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 2: The City of God in Salvation History, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 2: The City of God in Salvation History

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
The Fountain of God’s Work, Hildegard von Bingen

The Fountain of God’s Work

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 4: Wisdom and the Ancient Counsel before the City of God, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 4: Wisdom and the Ancient Counsel before the City of God

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 5: Divine Love upon the Wheel, Hildegard von Bingen

Book of Divine Works, Part 3, Vision 5: Divine Love upon the Wheel

Hildegard von Bingen, 1230
Portable Icon with the Virgin Eleousa, Medieval Art

Portable Icon with the Virgin Eleousa

1300
Altarpiece of Santa Reparata — Back, Giotto di Bondone

Altarpiece of Santa Reparata — Back

Giotto di Bondone, 1310
Altarpiece of Santa Reparata — Front, Giotto di Bondone

Altarpiece of Santa Reparata — Front

Giotto di Bondone, 1310
Baroncelli Polyptych, Giotto di Bondone

Baroncelli Polyptych

Giotto di Bondone, 1334
Polyptych of Bologna, Giotto di Bondone

Polyptych of Bologna

Giotto di Bondone, 1330-1335
Last Judgment in an Initial C, Lorenzo Monaco

Last Judgment in an Initial C

Lorenzo Monaco, 1406-1407
The Crucifixion, Fra Angelico

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Fra Angelico, 1420-1423
Christ Crowned with Thorns, Fra Angelico

Christ Crowned with Thorns

Fra Angelico, 1438-1439
Virgin and Child in a niche, Luca della Robbia

Virgin and Child in a niche

Luca della Robbia, 1460
Madonna and Child Enthroned, Carlo Crivelli

Madonna and Child Enthroned

Carlo Crivelli, 1472
An Apostle, Carlo Crivelli

An Apostle

Carlo Crivelli, 1471-1473
The Adoration of the Magi, Hieronymus Bosch

The Adoration of the Magi

Hieronymus Bosch, 1475
Madonna and Child, Carlo Crivelli

Madonna and Child

Carlo Crivelli, 1480
Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, Carlo Crivelli

Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor

Carlo Crivelli, 1490
Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings, Bichitr

Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings

Bichitr, 1615-1618
Portrait of Raja Bikramajit, Bichitr

Portrait of Raja Bikramajit

Bichitr, 1620
Nasta'liq Calligraphy, Bichitr

Nasta'liq Calligraphy

Bichitr, 1640
Portrait of the Elephant 'Alam Guman, Bichitr

Portrait of the Elephant 'Alam Guman

Bichitr, 1640
Shah-Jahan receives his three eldest sons and Asaf Khan during his accession ceremonies, Bichitr

Shah-Jahan receives his three eldest sons and Asaf Khan during his accession ceremonies

Bichitr, 1630-1657
Emperor Guan, Qing Dynasty

Emperor Guan

1700
Raja Balwant Singh Revering Krishna and Radha, The Family of Nainsukh

Raja Balwant Singh Revering Krishna and Radha

The Family of Nainsukh, 1745-1750
Operating on Guanyu's Arm, Katsushika Ōi

Operating on Guanyu's Arm

Katsushika Ōi, 1850
Heroine Rushing to Her Lover (Abhisarika Nayika), The Family of Nainsukh

Heroine Rushing to Her Lover (Abhisarika Nayika)

The Family of Nainsukh, c. 1870
The Peacock Room, James McNeill Whistler

The Peacock Room

James McNeill Whistler, 1877
Judith and the Head of Holofernes, Gustav Klimt

Judith and the Head of Holofernes

Gustav Klimt, 1901
Goldfish, Gustav Klimt

Goldfish

Gustav Klimt, 1901-1902
Portrait of Emilie Flöge, Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Emilie Flöge

Gustav Klimt, 1902
Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Fritza Riedler

Gustav Klimt, 1906
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Gustav Klimt, 1907
Water Snakes 1, Gustav Klimt

Water Snakes 1

Gustav Klimt, 1904-1907
Danaë, Gustav Klimt

Danaë

Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908
Hope 2, Gustav Klimt

Hope 2

Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908
The Kiss, Gustav Klimt

The Kiss

Gustav Klimt, 1907-1908
Altarpiece No. 1 Group X, Hilma af Klint

Altarpiece No. 1 Group X

Hilma af Klint, 1915
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