Repousse work in silver, which is still practised, dates from the most ancient times.
The reason of this is that a repousse relief is of much thinner substance than if the same design were cast, even by the most skilful metal-worker, and so a large surface may be produced with a very small expenditure of valuable metal.
Repousse), was probably adopted for bronze-work on a large scale before the art of forming large castings was discovered.
With increased skill in large castings, and the discovery of the use of cores, by which the fluid bronze was poured into a mere skin-like cavity, hammered or repousse work was only used in the case of small objects in which lightness was desirable, or for the precious metals in order to avoid large expenditure of metal.
It is a very sumptuous work, the front of the altar being entirely of gold, with repousse reliefs and cloisonné enamels; the back and ends are of silver, with gold ornaments.
- Silver Repousse Reliefs from the Pistoia Retable.
The main part of most of these screens is filled in with quatrefoils, and at the top is an open frieze formed of plate iron pierced, repousse, and enriched with engraving.
It has elaborate reliefs in repousse work, cast canopies and minute statuettes, with the further enrichment of translucent coloured enamels.
They generally have moulded rails or balusters, and rich friezes of pierced and repousse work, the whole being often thickly plated with silver.
The repousse process both for brass and silver was much used by Oriental workers, and even now fine works of this class are produced in the East, old designs still being adhered to.
Greaves were found at Glasinatz and Jezerin, though not at Hallstatt; two helmets were found at Hallstatt and others in Bosnia; broad bronze belts were numerous, adorned in repousse with beast and geometric ornament.
The British Museum possesses a fine fibula of silver decorated with a simple pattern in niello and thin plates of repousse gold.