Sgrafitto and punches


Various ornamental or figurative decorations could be formed by scratching and etching onto the glazing colour applied to the gilded surface using a pointed tool to reveal the glittering gold layer underneath. Usually, carved draperies and borders were decorated through this technique, and sometimes sgrafitto was applied together with punching.


This decorating method was used in wooden sculpture on newly polished gilded surfaces to fill the spaces. It was mostly applied to borders, draperies, crowns or larger and flat gilded surfaces and in conjunction with painted designs. After gilding, the desired pattern was punched into the surface using special punch tools. Every workshop had its own punch tools; this can help us locate where an object was made.

(Workshop of Robert Moreau: Christ Bearing the Cross, inv. no.: 84.10)