An Artisan’s view
Marino Menegazzo, Goldbeater at Mario Berta Battiloro

The goldbeater’s art dates back to 2000 BC when the Egyptians first beat gold into papyrus paper. The Basilica San Marco proudly boasts the evolution of the art form, with its extraordinary golden mosaics. Today Marino Menegazzo, master goldbeater at Mario Berta Battiloro, carries on the tradition in his artisan laboratory, beating gold into ultra-slim leaves – mere microns thick.

An Artisan’s view
Marino Menegazzo, Goldbeater at Mario Berta Battiloro

What is the most satisfying part of your craft?

The most satisfying aspect of my craft is to see how the gold gradually flattens out from a 4-5 cm ingot to form a 12-13 cm-wide leaf, allowing light to reveal the patterns imprinted by the strikes of alternating hammers. The beating itself is a truly contemplative task; as the leaf develops you have to adjust yourself constantly.

The charm of gold and this craft is that the beating process changes every time, as the beater responds to varying temperature and climate conditions.

What inspires you in Venice?

Even though I was born here and have lived in Venice for over 67 years, the inspirational beauty always manages to surprise me. Crossing the same old ‘calli’ unveils something new and mysterious every time.

Venice has always been linked to the goldbeater, and for 200 years was the only custodian of the craft during the Republic of La Serenissima. It was Venice that introduced the art of the goldbeater to the rest of Europe.

If you hadn’t been a goldbeater what other craft would you have considered?

I am the very last goldbeater working in Europe. If I hadn’t chosen this craft, I would have been a blacksmith, because you can create beautiful sculptures with iron, which express the soul of an artist – that is actually what we artisans are. I think I will forever be the last artisan goldbeater, unless someone really falls in love with this craft as I have. My own contributions to this evolving craft are new techniques to accelerate beating and 17 different colours of gold.

The proudest moment of my career was when the Michelangelo Foundation awarded me as “Master of Arts and Crafts” in Milan, giving an unrivalled recognition as the last goldbeater.

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