Why did goldbeating disappear in the 19th century?
The advent of Austrian rule changed everything. The use of gold was less widespread, artisans in Vienna were favoured over Venetian ones, and little by little the workshops closed one after the other. Only in the 1920s did one of my wife’s ancestors persuade her husband to reopen his workshop.
How did that come about?
She and her husband were running a stationery shop, selling gold leaf coming from Florence. Business was good, so in 1926 they decided to open the goldbeating workshop Rivani Battiloro. My father-in-law, who used to work for them, took over in 1969. That’s how Berta Battiloro was born.
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How did you take up the craft?
When my father-in-law asked me to join, in 1975, I barely knew what goldbeating was. In the beginning, I wasn’t particularly taken by the craft, but then my family went through a difficult moment and I found myself working on my own. That’s when everything changed.
What is your advice to a young person interested in becoming a goldbeater?
To have patience, a lot of patience. Sometimes the days seem neverending, working hammer in hand. That’s why it’s hard for me to find someone to help my daughters continue the business after I retire. This craft is not only extremely demanding, but it also requires perfect technique and unfaltering attention.