Surface Gilding of Cross of the Good Shepard

The gilding on the Cross of the Good Shepherd was researched by Julianna Ly, who found that it is likely one of the few, if only, Louise Nevelson large scale gilt sculptures.  While Nevelson did often spray paint large scale sculptures gold, other large scale gilded sculptures have not been located to date. 

The gilding is in good condition, although it is dirty with dust and grime and there are drips down the front surfaces.  Examination with magnification and ultra violet light indicates that the surface has been coated with a natural resin, probably applied during original construction. The resin has a slight yellow/brown hue, dulling the brilliant gold. 

The manufacturing techniques are not documented.  Surface examination indicates that the surface is water gilded, meaning that an initial bole was applied and then covered with squares of gold leaf. The gold was then burnished to further adhere it to the bole.  The surface was then varnished with a natural resin.

Because there has been no other documentation of Nevelson gilding, it is not clear who actually applied the gold leaf.  However, documented working methods of other Nevelson pieces clearly indicate that Nevelson never surrendered control over executing her artworks, and it can be assumed that although Nevelson might not have personally applied the gold leaf, she had a strong role in managing the process. 

Gilding detail, edge of gilded panel.  Dark areas are degraded varnish. 

Gilding detail, edge of gilded panel.  Dark areas are degraded varnish. 

A surface drip probably from condensation along the skylights above the Cross.  The drip removed the surface dirt and natural resin coating, showing the difference between the coated and uncoated gilding. 

A surface drip probably from condensation along the skylights above the Cross.  The drip removed the surface dirt and natural resin coating, showing the difference between the coated and uncoated gilding. 

Posted on June 20, 2016 .