Meaning of METALWORK in English

useful and decorative objects fashioned of various metals, including copper, iron, silver, bronze, lead, gold, and brass. The earliest man-made objects were of stone, wood, bone, and earth. It was only later that humans learned to extract metals from the earth and to hammer them into objects. Metalwork includes vessels, utensils, ceremonial and ritualistic objects, decorative objects, architectural ornamentation, personal ornament, sculpture, and weapons. useful and decorative objects fashioned of various metals, including copper, iron, silver, bronze, lead, gold, and brass. The earliest man-made objects were of stone, wood, and bone, which were found naturally on the surface of the earth. It was only later in evolution that man learned to extract metals from the earth and to hammer those metals into utensils, jewelry, weapons, and ritualistic objects. Metal is made into objects by various techniques, some used to form the object itself and others used for decoration only. Forming techniques are primarily hammering and casting. Hammering is the oldest technique. Plates of metal were hammered into shape and individual components either riveted together or pinned to a solid core before the invention of soldering or welding. After about 2500 BC both hammering and casting were used. To cast an object, molten metal is poured into a mold and allowed to cool. There are various techniques of casting that vary according to the type of mold used. In the technique known as the lost-wax, or cire perdue, process a wax model is encased in a refractory mold and is replaced by the hot metal, which melts the wax. After the metal hardens, the mold is broken to release the object. It can therefore be used only once. Other techniques using wooden or plaster molds allow several castings. Decorating techniques include hammering; embossing, or repouss, in which ornament is raised in relief from the reverse side of the sheet metal; chasing; engraving; inlaying; enamelling; and gilding. Niello is a type of decoration in which molten silver sulfide is inlaid into another, hard metal, the surface of which has first been engraved with ornamental designs. Each decorative process has its own special technique and requires distinct skills on the part of the craftsman. Silver and gold have been worked since ancient times, especially for items of personal ornamentation such as jewelry. Utilitarian objects of silver were common in antiquity and have remained important in modern times. Important centres included Greece, Persia, and Rome. Precious objects of gold and silver were made for the Christian church from Byzantine times onward. Many were lavishly decorated with inlaid jewels, gilding, and enamelling. Goldsmiths and silversmiths formed themselves into guilds in the 12th century; such was the patronage of royalty, nobility, and the wealthy merchant classes. By the end of the Middle Ages hallmarking was enforced in England to control the purity of silver objects. Fine goldsmith's work was made in the 16th century, especially in Flanders and in Germany. Much of the silver tableware made in England from the 17th century has survived and is still admired for its grace and simplicity of form. Goldwork and silverwork from pre-Columbian America was of the highest quality. Hollow ornaments were cast using the lost-wax process in what are now Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Sheet gold and silver were hammered and decorated to make brilliant and delicate ritualistic objects. In the southwestern United States the silverwork of the American Indians, particularly the Zuni and the Navajo, introduced by Mexican craftsmen, is distinctive. Copper was the first nonprecious metal to be wrought by man. Various copper alloys with tin and zinc were soon developed, making copper harder wearing and easier to work with. Copper is worked in a manner similar to silver or gold, being malleable and relatively soft, and it is often decorated with enamel. Many copper objects, such as mirrors and jugs, were made in ancient Egypt. The metal was widely used for domestic utensils in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and was used from the mid-18th century as the basis for Sheffield plate, a silver plate made by bonding silver to copper. The alloy of copper and tin is called bronze, and the copper and zinc alloy is known as brass. Both bronze and brass were used for a wide range of objects, bronze exclusively being formed by casting. Fine bronze vases and statues were made in ancient Greece, and bronze became the most important medium for Greek large-scale sculpture. Smaller objects such as armour and vases were beautifully decorated with hammer ornament. Much important bronze warenotably bells, candlesticks, and chandelierswas cast from the Middle Ages onward for ecclesiastical purposes. Among the most important Renaissance works in bronze were Lorenzo Ghiberti's 15th-century doors for the Baptistery of the cathedral of Florence. In England monumental brasses to mark tombs were made from the 13th to the 16th century, and many are still in place in churches and cathedrals. French 17th- and 18th-century furniture makers used gilded bronze mounts. Bronzes have been made in China for about 3,700 years, mostly originally as ritual vessels. Some of them are of such high quality as to be considered works of sculpture. Pewter is an alloy of tin, which in its pure form is too brittle to cast and difficult to melt, and either copper or lead. Pewter objects are cast in molds and are usually simple and utilitarian in form and decoration, since the alloy is unsuitable for either stamping or chasing. A group of flagons, considered some of the finest of all pewter objects, was made in Silesia in about 1500. Pewter remained popular for plates and tankards throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, though it was gradually superseded by cheaper earthenware and porcelain from the mid-18th century. Iron, either wrought or cast, has been used for a long time for decorative architectural components. Wrought iron particularly, which can be twisted and hammered, was used for gates and railings from the 16th century on. In medieval and Tudor times in England decorative ironwork hinges were common for church doors, and window openings were frequently protected by wrought iron bars. Lead, because of its resistance to water, has traditionally been used for roof coverings. It was used from antiquity as a substitute for bronze and precious metals for the casting of metal sculpture. Lead garden figures, weather resistant and soft and silvery in colour, became popular in the late 17th century when some outstanding vases and statues were cast. Additional reading General works Georgius Agricola, De re metallica (1556; Eng. trans., 1912, reprinted 1950), a scholarly translation of a mining and metallurgical classic; Leslie Aitchison, A History of Metals, 2 vol. (1960), outstanding for its completeness, competence, and excellent index; The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio, trans. from the Italian with introduction and notes by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi (1942), a description of Biringuccio's practices of smelting and metallurgy; Herbert H. Coghlan, Notes on the Prehistoric Metallurgy of Copper and Bronze in the Old World (1951), an authoritative study with a chapter on various methods of working, such as forging, casting, and sheet metalworking; Robert J. Forbes, Metallurgy in Antiquity, 9 vol. (1950; new ed., Studies in Ancient Technology, 1964 ), vol. 8 devoted to the discussion of early metallurgy, the smith and his tools, gold, silver and lead, zinc and brass, and vol. 9 containing the chapters on copper, tin and bronze, and ironthese publications are authoritative and the bibliographies are comprehensive; Hanns U. Haedeke, Metalwork (1970), a study of European metalwork from the Middle Ages to the 19th century that emphasizes the socio-economic aspects of decorative arts in copper, brass, bronze, iron, and pewter; R. Goowdwin-Smith, English Domestic Metalwork (1937), deals with technology and style as well as types of domestic objects and utensils; Raymond Lister, The Craftsman in Metal (1966), an enlightening discussion of the techniques of metalworking in various historical periods; Thomas A. Rickard, Man and Metals: A History of Mining in Relation to the Development of Civilization, 2 vol. (1932), shows that civilization was developed by the skillful use of metals in industry and the arts; Charles Singer et al. (eds.), A History of Technology, 5 vol. (195458), the standard general reference book in the field of technology that covers the history of metalwork from early times to about 1900 ADeach subject is written by a master, the illustrations are numerous, well selected, and well explained; R.F. Tylecote, Metallurgy in Archaeology: A Prehistory of Metallurgy in the British Isles (1962), includes chapters on gold, copper and copper alloys, tin and tin alloys, lead and silver, methods of fabrication, and cites extensive references (the last half of the book is devoted to the study of iron). Later studies include James A. Mulholland, A History of Metals in Colonial America (1981); and Oppi Untracht, Jewelry Concept and Technology (1982). Silver and gold Western Staton Abbey, The Goldsmith's and Silversmith's Handbook, 2nd ed. rev. (1968); P. Ackerman, The Art of the Parthian Silver- and Goldsmiths, E. Margulies, Cloisonne Enamel, and J. Orbeli, Sasanian and Early Islamic Metalwork, in A Survey of Persian Art, ed. by A.U. Pope, vol. 1 (1938); Lawrence Anderson, The Art of the Silversmith in Mexico, 15191936, 2 vol. (1941); Clara Louise Avery, Early American Silver (1930, reprinted 1968); Gudmund Boesen and Christen A. Boje, Gammelt dansk slv til bordbrug (1948; Eng. trans., Old Danish Silver, 1949); Kathryn C. Buhler, American Silver (1950); Benvenuto Cellini, Treatises . . . on Goldsmithing and Sculpture (Eng. trans. 1898, reprinted 1966); Michael Clayton, The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America (1971); Ernest M. Currier, Marks of Early American Silversmiths . . . (1938, reprinted 1970); Frank Davis, French Silver (1970); Eric Delieb, Investing in Silver, new ed. (1970); Faith Dennis, Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver, 2 vol. (1960); Johan W. Frederiks, Dutch Silver, 4 vol. (195261), Renaissance18th century; John F. Hayward, Huguenot Silver in England, 16881727 (1959); Henry D. Hill, Antique Gold Boxes (1953); Graham Hood, American Silver: A History of Style, 16501900 (1971); G.E.P. and J.P. How, English and Scottish Silver Spoons, 3 vol. (1952); G. Bernard and Therle Hughes, Three Centuries of English Domestic Silver, 15001820 (1968); G. Bernard Hughes, Small Antique Silverware (1957); Charles J. Jackson, English Goldsmiths and Their Marks, 2nd ed. rev. (1921, reprinted 1964); Heinz Leitermann, Deutsche Goldschmiedekunst (1953); Charles C. Oman, English Domestic Silver, 6th ed. (1965); John Marshall Phillips, American Silver (1949); Jonathan Stone, English Silver of the Eighteenth Century (1965); Gerald Taylor, Silver, rev. ed. (1964) and Continental Gold and Silver (1967); Patricia Wardle, Victorian Silver and Silver-Plate (1963). (Modern): Esbjorn Hiort, Modern Danish Silver (1954); Georg Jensen, Inc., Fifty Years of Danish Silver in the Georg Jensen Tradition (1956); Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Modern British Silver (1951, 1954, 1959, 1964). Middle and Far East Henry L. Roth, Oriental Silver, Malay and Chinese (1910, reprinted 1966); Harry L. Tilly, The Silverwork of Burma (1902); Y. Okada, History of Japanese Ceramics and Metalwork, Pageant of Japanese Art, vol. 4 (1952). North and South AmericaPre-Columbian John Adair, The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths (1944, reprinted 1970); Jose Perez de Barradas, Orfebrera prehispnica de Colombia, 4 vol. (195458); Alfonso Caso, La Orfebrera, prehispnica, in Artes de Mexico, no. 10 (1955); Dudley T. Easby, Jr., Ancient American Goldsmiths, Natural History, 65:401409 (1956); Marshall H. Saville, The Goldsmith's Art in Ancient Mexico (1920); Arthur S. Woodward, A Brief History of Navajo Silversmithing (1938). (Sheffield plate and pewter): Frederick Bradbury, British and Irish Silver Assay Office Marks, 15441968 . . ., 12th ed. (1968); Howard Herschel Cotterell, Pewter Down the Ages, 2 pt. (1932) and Old Pewter: Its Makers and Marks in England, Scotland and Ireland (1929, reprinted 1963); John B. Kerfoot, American Pewter (1924); H.J.L.J. Masse, Chats on Old Pewter, ed. and rev. by Ronald F. Michaelis (1949); Edward Wenham, Old Sheffield Plate (1955); Seymour B. Wyler, The Book of Sheffield Plate, with All Known Makers' Marks Including Victorian Plate Insignia (1949). Ironwork Maxwell Ayrton and Arnold Silcock, Wrought Iron and Its Decorative Use (1929); Arthur and Mildred S. Byne, Spanish Ironwork (1915); Herbert H. Coghlan, Notes on Prehistoric and Early Iron in the Old World (1956); Charles J. Ffoulkes, Decorative Ironwork from the XIth to the XVIIIth Century (1913); Edgar B. Frank, Petite Ferronnerie ancienne (1948; Eng. trans., Old French Ironwork, 1950); J. Starkie Gardner, English Ironwork of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries (1911) and Continental Ironwork of the Renaissance and Later Periods, rev. ed. (1930); Gerald K. Geerlings, Wrought Iron in Architecture (1929) and Metal Crafts in Architecture (1929); John Gloag and Derek Bridgwater, A History of Cast Iron in Architecture (1948); John Harris (comp.), English Decorative Ironwork from Contemporary Source Books, 16101836 (1960); Otto Hover, Das Eisenwerk, 3rd rev. ed. (1953; Eng. trans., A Handbook of Wrought Iron from the Middle Ages to the End of the Eighteenth Century; U.S. title, Wrought Iron: Encyclopedia of Ironwork; 1962); J. Seymour Lindsay, Iron and Brass Implements of the English House, rev. ed. (U.S. title, Iron and Brass Implements of the English and American House; 1964); Raymond Lister, Decorative Wrought Ironwork in Great Britain (1957) and Decorative Cast Ironwork in Great Britain (1960); Joseph Needham, Iron and Steel Production in Ancient and Medieval China, in Clerks and Craftsmen in China and the West, ch. 8 (1970); Wallace Nutting, Early American Ironwork (1919); Albert H. Sonn, Early American Wrought Iron, 3 vol. (1928). Leadwork William R. Lethaby, Leadwork, Old and Ornamental, and for the Most Part English (1893); Sir Lawrence Weaver, English Leadwork: Its Art and History (1909); George Zarnecki, English Romanesque Lead Sculpture: Lead Fonts of the Twelfth Century (1957). Copper, brass, and bronze Frederick Burgess, Chats on Old Copper and Brass, rev. ed. (1954); Henry J. Kauffmann, American Copper and Brass, (1968); Albert J. Kook, Early Chinese Bronzes (1970); Hermann Leisinger, Romanesque Bronzes (op. cit.); David G. Mitten and Suzannah F. Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World (1968); Hugo Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes (1967); Macklin's Monumental Brasses, rev. by John Page-Phillips (1969); John T. Perry, Dinanderie: A History and Description of Mediaeval Art Work in Copper, Brass, and Bronze (1910); John Pope-Hennessey, Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection (1965); George Savage, A Concise History of Bronzes (1968); C. Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes (1963); Ernest R. Suffling, English Church Brasses: From the 13th to the 17th Century (1970); Alexander Soper, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Bronzes (1966); Leon Underwood, Bronzes of West Africa, 2nd ed. (1968); William Watson, Ancient Chinese Bronzes (1962). Decorative metalwork Leslie Aitchison, A History of Metals, 2 vol. (1960); J. Starkie Gardner, Ironwork (various editions, 18921930); Hermann Leisinger, Romanesque Bronzes: Church Portals in Mediaeval Europe (1957); Cyril Stanley Smith, A History of Metallography: The Development of Ideas on the Structure of Metals Before 1890 (1960). Non-Western metalwork South Asia Iron The manufacture of iron by primitive smallscale methods has survived in southern India and Ceylon to the present day. The slag heaps of ancient furnaces are common, and the processes have probably been in use for more than 2,000 years; but it is unknown whether they are of indigenous invention or acquired. In southern India iron immediately succeeded stone as a material for tools and weapons, and prehistoric iron weapons began to come into use about 500 BC. The wrought-iron pillar of Delhi, set up about AD 400 by Kumara Gupta I in honour of his father, is over 23 feet (seven metres) in height and weighs more than six tons. It demonstrates the abilities of Indian metalworkers in handling large masses of material, for not until the latter part of the 19th century could anything of the same kind have been made in Europe. There are other large iron pillars at Dhar and at Mt. Abu. Western metalwork Iron Ironwork is fashioned either by forging or casting. Wrought iron is the type of ironwork that is forged on an anvil. There are no fabrication similarities to cast iron, which is poured in a molten state into prepared sand molds. Wrought iron is fibrous in structure and light gray in colour. It can be hammered, twisted, or stretched when hot or cold. The more it is hammered, the more brittle and hard it becomes; but it can be brought back to its original state by annealing (heating and then cooling slowly). It will not shatter when dropped. From earliest times, the smith has had a forge to heat the iron, an adjacent water tank in which to cool it, an anvil on which to form it, in addition to a wide assortment of hammers and tools. The most important tool is the anvil. The English type, generally used for forging wrought iron, has a flat top surface, which is used as a solid base for hammering the heated iron into shape, for welding, for splitting, or for incising decorative chisel marks in the hot iron. One end of the anvil is shaped like a pointed cone and is used for forming curved surfaces. The other blunt end, or heel, has one or two square or rectangular holes on top, into which fit various tools. From the anvil is derived the expression to strike while the iron is hot, and this implies spontaneity and rapid hammer blows. The wrought-iron craftsman should not be expected to repeat with meticulous exactitude one intricate component after another. In fact, wrought iron by a master craftsman is esteemed for the variations that naturally occur. The individual components of a wrought-iron design are often plain or twisted rods, with or without chisel-mark incisions. They are frequently composed as a series of straight, parallel members or in combination with scrolls, or as a repeat design of some geometric shape such as the quatrefoil. Where two curved members are tangent, they are characteristically secured together by bands or collars, rather than by welding. Where two straight bars intersect, it is accredited craftsmanship to make the vertical bar pierce or thread the horizontal member. Grilles consisting of two series of parallel small-diameter rods, one series at right angles to the other, were sometimes interlaced or woven. Depending upon the depth of the relief, various fabrication techniques may be employed for repouss, or three-dimensional, ornamental wrought ironwork. Sheets 1/16 inch (1.6 millimetres) or less in thickness generally are used. The general configuration of the modelling is obtained by beating the back of the sheet; the final details are embossed on the front face. The finer the scale and detail, the more work must be done when the iron is cold. A repouss design may be pierced; but this term usually connotes a solid sheet forged into a mask, a shield, or an entire embossed panel. The traditional means of setting off a cutout repouss design was to superimpose it on a vermillion-coloured background panel. Modern approximations of repouss work consist of mechanically stamped designs touched up with random hammer blows. Gerald K. Geerlings The most difficult way of decorating iron is to carve it. This involves fashioning figurative or decorative motifs out of the metal ingot with especially strengthened tools, using the material in the same way that the sculptor handles wood or stone. Only very precious iron articles are carved, such as coats of arms or pieces that are specifically designed to be displayed as works of art. Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Cast iron is melted in a furnace or cupola, stoked with alternate layers of coking iron, then poured into prepared sand molds. After the cast iron cools in the mold, the sand is cleaned off, and the work is virtually complete. Its shape is fixed, and while a casting can be slightly trued up by the judicious use of a hammer, it is in no sense as workable as wrought iron. Thus, ornamental features in cast iron cannot be chased and polished as in cast bronze. If the ornamental cast-iron details are not replicas of the original pattern, the only recourse is to make a new casting. Because it is brittle, cast iron is almost certain to shatter if dropped. Since it is cast in a mold, certain forms are more suitable to cast iron than to wrought iron. For example, if repetitive balusters, or columns, or panels with low-relief ornamentation are desired, cast iron is the most suitable material. Gerald K. Geerlings Early history The earliest recorded iron artifacts are some beads, dating from about 3500 BC or earlier, found at Jirzah in Egypt. They are made from meteoric iron, as are a number of other objects of only slightly later date that have been found both in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The earliest known examples of the use of smelted iron are fragments of a dagger blade in a bronze hilt, dating from the 28th century BC, found at Tall al-Asmar (modern Eshnunna), in Mesopotamia, and some pieces of iron from Tell Chagar Bazar, in the same area, of approximately the same date. There is, however, no evidence of any extensive use of iron in either Egypt or Mesopotamia before the end of the 2nd millennium BC. In Asia Minor, on the other hand, iron was probably used regularly from at least as early as 2000 BC; and it seems likely that the first true iron industry was established there in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC. From the ancient Near East the knowledge of iron working was transmitted to Greece and the Aegean, probably at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, whence it spread gradually to the rest of Europe. By the 6th century BC, it had been widely disseminated over central and western Europe. Iron was at first apparently regarded as a precious, semi-magical material, presumably because of its rarity and its connection with meteorites. But once it had become common, as a result of increased knowledge of the technique of smelting ore, it seems to have been used, at least in Europe, almost exclusively for objects of utility. A few Belgic firedogs and at least one amphora, skillfully forged in iron, with decorative terminals in the form of animal heads, are known; but the practice of forging iron into decorative shapes does not seem to have become general until the Middle Ages. A few cast-iron objects dating from classical times have been found in Europe. The extreme rarity of these, however, suggests that they were only produced experimentally. The earliest known evidence for the general use of cast iron comes from China (see below East Asia: China: Iron), and it does not seem to have been produced regularly in Europe before the 15th century. Western metalwork Copper The first nonprecious metal to be used by man was copper. But in the 4th millennium BC, Eastern craftsmen discovered that copper alloys using tin or zinc were both more durable and easier to work with, with the result that from then on the use of unalloyed copper declined sharply. Artists and craftsmen working in the West also discovered this, which is why pure copper work was relatively rare. Pure copper is a reddish colour and has a metallic glow. When it is exposed to damp, it becomes coated with green basic copper carbonate (incorrectly known as verdigris). This patina is a drawback if copper is to be used for functional objects, for the oxide is poisonous to man. This means that utensils that come into contact with food must be lined with tin. As copper is a relatively soft metal, it is sensitive to such influences as stress and impact. But unlike bronze it is malleable and can be hammered and chased in much the same way as silver. The surface of copper can be successfully gilded, and its reddish colouring makes the gilding seem even brighter. Because of these properties, copper was sometimes able to compete somewhat with silver. Pure copper is not particularly good for casting, as it can easily become blistered when the gases escape. The surface of sheet copper can be engraved, however, and this technique was often used for decorating purely ornamental objects. In copperplate etching, engraving became the basis of printing. Enamel is often applied to copper, using both the champlev and cloisonn techniques. Sheet copper was also used as a base for painted enamel. Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Western metalwork Lead Lead has two main uses in which some artistic purpose may be served: in architecture, as a material for roof coverings, gutters, piping, and cisterns; and in decorative art, as a material for sculpture and applied ornament. As an architectural material it has the advantage of being easily worked and yet offers great resistance to climatic conditions. The low melting point of lead and its relative freedom from contraction when solidifying make it particularly suitable for casting, and it has been used as a substitute for bronze or precious metals. Antiquity The earliest known lead sculptures are small votive figures found at Troy and Mycenae. In the Hellenistic period lead sarcophagi were known, and the Romans made much use of the metal. Large amounts of worked lead in various forms have been found in those parts of England where the Romans had permanent settlements. Western metalwork Bronze and brass Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. In the period of classical antiquity it had a low tin content, generally containing less than 10 percent, because tin was less common and therefore difficult to obtain. Like bronze, brass is an alloy, this time of copper plus zinc. It is often very difficult to distinguish between bronze and brass merely by their appearance. The colour of the different alloys ranges over various shades from gold to a reddish tinge, to silvery, greenish, and yellowish shades, according to the proportions of the basic constituents. The patina on both alloys ranges from dark brown to a dark greenish tinge, particularly in the earliest pieces. Since it is often difficult to differentiate between bronze and brass with the naked eye and since metalworkers and metal casters of previous centuries did not make an express distinction between them, they will be considered together here. From a very early date bronze was used mainly for casting. Because it is so brittle, it has only rarely been hammered or chased; brass or copper were preferred for such work because they are more malleable. Down to the Middle Ages, bronze was cast by the cire perdue, or lost-wax, method. By this process, the mold can be used only once. This method of casting is the most exclusive, not only because it is the most expensive but also because it produces the finest work from the aesthetic point of view. Later, the casting process used models made up of a number of different pieces that could be taken apart and therefore re-used. These were generally made of wood and could be pressed down into a sand mold so that the shape of the object being cast emerged as a hollow. The hollow was then filled with molten bronze, which was poured in through casting ducts. When the resulting piece had been removed from the sand mold, the surface was smoothed over and the casting seams removed. The wooden model could then be used again to make as many copies as were required, which meant that economical production was possible. Brass was cast by the same methods but over and above this a process of hammering and chasing was used to fashion sheet brass. Brass platters were often decorated with relief work ornament, which was embossed from the reverse side by means of a type of die. The brass worker could also create an ornamental frieze made up of small motifs by using a series of punches made of iron. The surface of bronze or brass objects was also occasionally decorated with engraving. Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Antiquity Mesopotamia In the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the bronze sword of King Adad-nirari I, a unique example from the palace of one of the early kings of the period (14th13th century BC) during which Assyria first began to play a prominent part in Mesopotamian history. A magnificent example of Assyrian bronze embossed work is to be seen in the gates of Shalmaneser III (858824 BC), erected to commemorate that king's campaigns. The gates were made of wood; and the bronze bands, embossed with a wealth of figures in relief, are only about 1/16 inch (1.6 millimetres) thick. The bands were obviously intended for decoration, not to strengthen the gates against attack. Western metalwork Silver and gold Antiquity Pre-Mycenaean Gold and silver and their natural or artificial mixture, called electrum or white gold, were worked in ancient Greece and Italy for personal ornaments, vessels, arrows and weapons, coinage, and inlaid and plated decoration of baser metals. Aegean lands were rich in precious metals. The considerable deposits of treasure found in the earliest prehistoric strata on the site of Troy are not likely to be later than 2000 BC. The largest of them, called Priam's Treasure, is a representative collection of jewels and plate. Packed in a large silver cup were gold ornaments consisting of elaborate diadems or pectorals, six bracelets, 60 earrings or hair rings, and nearly 9,000 beads. Trojan vases have bold and simple forms, mostly without ornament; but some are lightly fluted. Many are wrought from single sheets of metal. The characteristic handle is a heavy rolled loop, soldered or rivetted to the body. Bases are sometimes round or pointed, sometimes fitted with separate collars but more often slightly cupped to make a low ring foot. One oddly shaped vessel in gold is an oval bowl or cup with a broad lip at each end and two large roll handles in the middle. The oval body has Sumerian affinities. A plain, spouted bowl in the Louvre is a typical specimen of goldsmith's work from pre-Mycenaean Greece. The scarcity of precious metals points to lack of wealth as prime cause of the artistic backwardness of these regions. Silver seems to have been more plentiful in the Greek islands; but only a few simple vessels, headbands, pins, and rings survive. Minoan and Mycenaean A profusion of gold jewelry was found in early Minoan burials at Mkhlos and three silver dagger blades in a communal tomb at Kumasa. Silver seals and ornaments of the same age are not uncommon. An elegant silver cup from Gournia belongs to the next epoch (Middle Minoan I, c. 2000 BC). Numerous imitations of its conical and carinated (ridged) form in clay and of its metallic sheen in glazed and painted decoration prove that such vessels were common. Minoan plate and jewelry are amply represented in the wealth of mainland tombs at Mycenae and Vaphio. The vases from Mycenae are made indifferently of silver, gold, and bronze; but drinking cups, small phials, and boxes are generally made only of gold; and jugs are made of silver. Much funeral furniture is gold, notably masks that hid the faces or adorned the coffins of the dead. It has been thought that small gold disks, found in prodigious quantities (700 in one grave), were nailed on wooden coffins; but they may have been sewn on clothes. They are impressed with geometrical designs based on circular and spiral figures, stars and rosettes, and natural forms such as leaves, butterflies, and octopods. Smaller bossed disks bearing similar patterns may be button covers. Models of shrines and other amulets are also made of gold. A splendid piece of plate is a silver counterpart of a black steatite, or soapstone, libation vase from Knossos in the form of a bull's head, with gold horns, a gold rosette on the forehead, and gold-plated muzzle, ears, and eyes. (The gold here and in other Mycenaean plating is not laid on the silver but on inserted copper strips.) Gold cups from Mycenae are of two main types: plain curved or carinated forms related to the silverware and pottery of Troy and embossed conical vessels of the Minoan tradition. Some of the plain pieces, such as the so-called Nestor's cup, have handles ending in animals, which bite the rim or peer into the cup. The embossed ornament consists of vertical and horizontal bands of rosettes and spiral coils and of floral, foliate, marine, and animal figures. The designs are beaten through the walls and are consequently visible on the insides of most of the vessels; but the finest examples of their class, two gold cups from the Vaphio tomb near Sparta, have a plain gold lining that overlaps the embossed sides at the lip. The reliefs on the Vaphio cups represent men handling wild and domesticated cattle among trees in a rocky landscape. (Steatite vases carved with similar pictorial reliefs were evidently made to imitate embossed gold.) The handles show the typical Minoan form: two horizontal plates rivetted to the body at one end and joined at the other by a vertical cylinder. Cretan and mainland tombs have produced many examples of weapons adorned with gold. Modest ornaments are gold caps on the rivets that join hilt and blade, but the whole hilt is often cased in gold. An example from Mycenae has a cylindrical grip of openwork gold flowers with lapis lazuli in their petals and crystal filling between them; the guard is formed by dragons, similarly inlaid. The most splendid Mycenaean blades are bronze inlaid with gold, electrum, silver, and niello. Here again the work is done on inserted copper plates. This kind of flat inlay seems to have been originally Egyptian; it occurs on daggers from the tomb of Queen Aah-Hotep, which are contemporary with the Mycenaean (c. 1600 BC). Moreover, it is significant that two of the Mycenaean designs have Egyptian subjects (cats hunting ducks among papyrus clumps beside a river in which fish are swimming), though their style is purely Minoan. Another blade bears Minoan warriors fighting lions and lions chasing deer. A dagger from Thira has inlaid ax heads; one from Argos, dolphins; and fragments from the Vaphio tomb show men swimming among flying fish. These are masterpieces of Minoan craftsmanship. In the long, subsequent decadence of the Mycenaean age, however, there seems to have been no invention, and later pieces of goldsmiths' work repeat conventional forms and ornaments. Western metalwork Pewter In its pure form, tin is far from suitable for making into implements because it is too brittle for casting successfully and is not easy to melt down. For this reason it has always been alloyed with certain other metals, mainly lead, in the proportion of 10:1, or copper, alloyed about 100:4, to make what is known as pewter. In medieval Germany, the municipal authorities and the guilds laid down permissible ratios to be used for tin alloys. The authorities also kept an eye on the pewterers and their products to make sure that regulations were adhered to. So that pewter ware could be kept under constant surveillance, a system was worked out whereby every single article had to be marked by one, two, or more hallmarks, or touches. The first decrees of this kind to be issued in Germany date from the 14th century. In France and England, written sources refer to the pewterer's obligation to hallmark his wares from the end of the 15th century onward. These regulations do not seem to have been followed very closely in practice, for pieces surviving from the period before 1550 rarely have the regulation marks. In the second half of the 16th century, however, which was the golden age of pewter, almost all work began to be clearly marked. This means that modern collectors have a good chance of being able to identify their pieces. Pewter ware is cast in molds. It is not suitable for chasing or stamping. Molds for simple utensils such as plates, bowls, and jugs were made of clay mixed with calves' hair or of plaster, stone, or slate. From the 16th century, when pewter ware began to be decorated with relief work, molds made of brass or copper were used instead. Relief decoration can be applied by two different methods. The pewterer could either chisel the relief decoration (consisting of little scenes, figures, or decorative motifs) into the copper mold in intaglio, which enabled him to make the details as three-dimensional as he wished; or he could etch it in, which involved covering the plain copper mold with wax, scratching the decoration into it, and then allowing caustic acid to act on it. This second method resulted in a rather flat, two-dimensional relief, which is reminiscent of woodcuts in its sharp outlines and overall style; thus, the technique is known as the woodcut style. It was common practice in Nrnberg in the last quarter of the 16th century. Pewter utensils (exclusively plates and dishes at this time) were cast in molds prepared in this manner. It was very seldom that decorative motifs were etched straight onto the pewter surface. Another type of decoration is engraving, which involves cutting decorative motifs, figures, or inscriptions with a burin into the surface of pewter objects. The most expensive and aesthetically important pieces of engraved pewter were produced in the late Gothic period, about 1500. In the 16th and 17th centuries, engraving was common for guild articles; and in the 18th century engraved mottoes, names, dates, and motifs taken from popular art were widely used. The type of strokes used fall into three categories: long, engraved lines; dots set close together to form a pattern; and a technique known in German as Flecheln, in which the straight line made by the burin is broken up into a series of long or short zigzag strokes. The last method makes the design look fuller and broader and also makes it stand out more sharply. This type of decoration first appeared in the 16th century and was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. After they had been cast and then turned on a lathe, many pewter articles, especially plates and dishes, were hammered. The idea was to smooth over the surface of the object and strengthen the material by means of a series of light and regular blows. Sometimes pewterers punched their wares with decorative motifs stamped close together to form a sort of frieze. This technique is known as tooling and is commonly found on bronze and silver articles. Occasionally, pewter pieces were embellished by the addition of brass fittings, such as handles, knobs, spouts, or scroll panels. But pewter ware has rarely been gilded, partly because it is difficult to make a layer of gilding adhere to the surface, partly because there seems little point in covering a material that is attractive in itself with a metal that is ostensibly more precious. This is also why pewter ware has rarely been painted. A type of pewter inlay is found on what are known as Lichtenhain tankards. Most of these tankards were made in Lower Franconia and in Thringia in the 18th and 19th centuries. They have wooden staves running down them, and their sides are inlaid with decorative motifs and figures made of thin sheets of engraved pewter. In the early 18th century, furniture was also occasionally inlaid with pewter. Such furniture was clearly inspired by the inlay work of the French cabinetmaker Andr-Charles Boulle. Antiquity On the whole, excavations have unearthed little pewter ware dating from antiquity, not only because it has tended to perish over the years but presumably also because it was not nearly as common as glass, bronze, silver, or clay. Excavations on the Esqueline Hill and finds from the Tiber River have produced some small pewter statuettes of divinities that may well be votive offerings. Miniature versions of household articles such as amphorae, oil lamps, and pieces of furniture were found in graves. A number of pewter ampullae (flasks with a globular body and two handles) with inscriptions or highly stylized images or symbols date from the Early Christian period. They were sold to pilgrims and were used to hold water from the Jordan River, consecrated water, or oil. (Similar pouch-shaped ampullae reappeared in France in the 14th and 15th centuries; but unlike the early Christ

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