what is ormolu

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      Ormolu, also called ground gold, is a coating put on an object to imitate the look of gold. Historically, this refers to a coating on bronze or brass items that is only achieved by a dangerous process known as mercury gilding. In modern usage, ormolu is used for any gilded object, though true pieces are rare.

    In the early 18th century, Baroque and Rococo design styles achieved popularity among the royal and noble classes of Europe, notably in France and England. Rococo design in particular relies on highly-detailed ornamentation, occasionally leading detractors to refer to it as baroque gone insane. Unlike early design forms, where ornamentation was seen as an accessory to architecture, Rococo turned the process around, having architecture conform to whimsical, asymmetrical, and highly decorated design. One of the cornerstones of the movement was adoration for extremely detailed gold or gilded decorations.

    In France, the rarity of gold lead and the popularity of Rococo lead to the invention of gold hybrids, notably by mixing gold with mercury paste. The name, of the gilding comes from the French words or molu, meaning mashed gold. To compensate for the lack of easily available gold sources, ormolu became extremely popular throughout Europe.

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