Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Goldsmith's Workshop, AD 1576

Etienne Delaune, Goldsmith's Workshop, an engraving showing the interior of a goldsmith's workshop in France, AD 1576

This pair of signed and dated engravings by Delaune (1519-1583) document the practice of sixteenth-century goldsmithing. The walls of the workshop are lined with the tools of the craft: pliers, files, drills, gravers, and hammers. The boy turning the winch on the left appears to be drawing wire. The worktable is placed perpendicular to the large window, in order to provide maximum natural light to the craftsmen. On the right a youth holds a pair of tongs in a small forge, with a bellows and an anvil by his side. Each workman sits with a leather apron tucked into his belt and attached to the table to catch filings of precious metal.

The second print shows the older man with spectacles serving a client through the window. He is possibly a self-portrait by Delaune. A display of chains and pendants hangs from the ceiling in full view of the street but out of reach of passers-by.

Delaune is recorded working as a goldsmith in Paris in 1546 and briefly in the royal mint six years later. His first dated prints were made when he was 42 years old. As a Calvinist, he left Paris at the time of the St Bartholomew's Eve massacre in 1572, and moved first to Strasbourg and later, according to the inscription on this print, to Augsburg.

1 comment:

Tina Cowan said...

Good info...sounds rather difficult. No wonder gold have the highest demand...hmm!