Medallion: The Last Supper

Medallion: The Last Supper

late 1400s

Basse-taille enamel on silver

Diameter: 5.8 cm (2 5/16 in.)

Gift of Dr. Norman Zaworski 1979.5

Description

The word enamel derives from the Old French esmail and the Old High German smelzen, meaning "to smelt." This is the most crucial process in the making of enamel. To prepare enamel, the constituents of glass (flint, or sand, as well as red lead, and soda or potash) are heated together to form a clear flux. To this a coloring agent (usually a metallic oxide) is added: copper for green, cobalt for blue, iron for red or brown. The enamel is then allowed to cool and solidify in slabs. Before use, each color is separately ground into a fine powder, placed on a prepared metal surface, and fired in a kiln. When cool, the surface is polished to remove any imperfections and add brilliance to the colors. The difference between the various enameling techniques lies chiefly in the methods used to prepare the metal surface for the enamel.

See also
Collection: 
MED - Gothic
Department: 
Medieval Art
Type of artwork: 
Enamel

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