The use of wax for appliqué relief brocade on wooden statuary

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Frinta, Mojmir;


Studies in conservation, Volume 8, Number 4, p.136-149 (1963)


analysis, sculpture, wax, wood


A plastic brocade for polychrome wooden statues made of wax or wax-resin is mentioned for the first time. Like the more usual brocade pattern, made of gypsum, this was "prefabricated," that is to say, thin sheets of the material were decorated and then cut into rectangles and circles. The pattern could be modified with oil or oil-resin glazes in red or green, and sometimes incised lines were filled with a thick black paint. Very few samples have survived because of the fragility of the material. Often it has been removed during successive repaintings. Fourteen samples from statues and wings of altarpieces were analyzed by John Mills and Joyce Plesters. These analyses established two forms of the appliqué, one made of beeswax alone, and the other of a wax-resin mixture, often with additions such as fine hair, red lead, etc. Up to the present the author knows only of examples from the Rhine, Swabia, Switzerland and northern Spain, all dating between the second half of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. Author's abstract