goldwork

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

goldwork

goldwork, ornaments, jewelry, and vessels created from gold. Such works have figured in almost every stage of civilization as symbols of wealth and power.

The Ancient World

The earliest-known fine goldwork is from Ur in Mesopotamia. Dating from c.3000 BC to 2340 BC, it was executed with great technical proficiency. Egyptian goldwork dating from the Middle Kingdom, including gold jewelry with inlaid gems, and the objects found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, are examples of the fine work done by Egypt's goldsmiths.

Goldwork of the Aegean civilization shows the many metalworking techniques—openwork, repoussé, embossing, and inlaying—used by artisans of that time. The Vaphio cups are the most outstanding treasures to survive this period, although many fine examples of goldwork (jewelry, death masks, drinking cups, vases, weapons, and dress ornaments) have been found at Troy, Mycenae, and Tiryns. The goldwork of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia (6th–4th cent. BC) is noted for its extreme opulence and for the technical skill with which it was executed; examples of these treasures are in the British Museum and the Louvre.

Archaic Greek and Etruscan goldwork dating from c.700 BC to 500 BC was strongly influenced by Middle Eastern artisans. With its rich and barbaric design, Etruscan goldwork was among the finest in the ancient world. Later Greek work developed exquisite filigree and combined delicate geometric ornament with mythological figures. Roman goldwork followed Greek forms but placed greater emphasis on massive proportion and over-elaborate detail. Greek forms also influenced the goldsmiths of the Byzantine Empire.

The Middle Ages

During the early Middle Ages the best European goldwork was produced by the Celts, particularly in Ireland—the Tara brooch (National Mus., Dublin) is characteristic of their intricate design and fine workmanship. The Anglo-Saxon and Merovingian schools employed spiral, animal, and interlacing ornament, with a splendid display of color and inlaid jewels. In the later Middle Ages a wealth of golden ecclesiastical crosses, reliquaries, sacred vessels, and altar fronts were produced throughout Europe in a diversity of styles and techniques but consistently with greater emphasis on gem setting and ornamentation.

The Renaissance

During the Italian Renaissance the rediscovery of classical forms gave fresh spirit to representational figure work, and the art of the goldsmith was in great demand for both secular and sacred ornament. Renaissance goldsmiths, the most celebrated of whom was Cellini, produced works of great refinement and detail. Later European goldwork tended to repeat Renaissance forms until the classic revival of the early 19th cent., when the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum revived interest in classical antiquity.

Goldwork of Asia and the Americas

Goldwork was just as important in many parts of Asia as it was in the West. India had many centers noted for ornate goldwork and other metalwork. Tibetan goldsmiths created figures having a religious significance. Chinese goldwork is rare because of the scarcity of the metal in China; the examples that survive are exquisite. Central and South America had excellent goldsmiths, and Aztec, Panamanian, and especially Inca goldwork is of extremely high quality.

Modern Goldwork

During the craft revival of the 1960s and 70s in the United States the techniques of gold working that were developed in the past were used to create complex, innovative designs, principally in jewelry making. More recently, new techniques, including electroforming, have been added to the traditional means of producing goldwork.

Bibliography

See T. Wigley, The Art of the Goldsmith and Jeweler (1977); A. G. Grimwade, London Goldsmiths, 1697–1837 (3d ed. 1989).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

goldwork
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.