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Gold, Gold leaf

Gold leaf is a very thin metal foil which is available in a wide variety of carats and shades. 23-carat gold is the most commonly used variety. Layering gold leaf over a surface is sometimes called gold leafing, and is a very common form of gilding. Before the discovery of electroplating, it was the only cost effective way to gild statues, cornices, the exterior of domes or other objects. To avoid the high price of gold there are a variety of imitation gold leaf products available which are usually referred collectively as imitation leaf.

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Oliver Cromwell
by Peter Blondeau, after an original by Thomas Simon
1656
NPG 4068

Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orleans
copy attributed to Jean Petitot, possibly after Pierre Mignard
17th century?
NPG 1606

Jeremy Bentham
by John Field
circa 1823
NPG 3068

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