Finishes & Marbleizing

All objects and surfaces, such as sculptures, reliefs, pieces of furniture or façades, may have colourful finishes or can be gilded, silvered or lustred.Usually, the exterior layers are keyed to smoothen the surface or, e.g., to prevent the colours from soaking into the wood.


White lead was often used on surfaces to imitate marble or china, and the method was particularly popular in the 18th century. A series of chalk paint coatings was followed by coatings of lead white which, once thoroughly dried through, were highly polished using small agates.Original finishes are usually only conserved on smaller objects as the surface is very sensitive to humidity. The two galleries in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna serve as a rare example of restoration and reconstruction on a large scale (see photo gallery).



The lustre technique was used mainly in the Baroque period to simulate precious materials, especially in the garments of figures of saints. Blue, red or green glazes on silver simulate precious metals and make the figures look more valuable.

Colour shades which are used to depict naked body parts in order to make them seem more real arecalled carnation or flesh tones.

In addition, marbleizing - the art of feigning genuine marble using brushes and paint - has a long tradition and is based on the desire to give parts of buildings or furniture a more prestigious appearance.