Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Painting, Setting and Gilding Techniques of Church Painters and Gilders

Traditional painting, setting and gilding techniques by church painters and gilders have provably existed for over 600 years. In their richness of decorative and ornamental surface designs with color and sheet metal, they are indispensable throughout Germany and especially in Bavaria for the development and decoration of churches, castles, town halls, inns, etc. They contribute to an unmistakable appearance of buildings, cities and regions.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: all seasons
Inscription: 2016
Domains: traditional craftsmanship
Where to find: nationwide but mainly in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony (also abroad)


Fachgruppe der Kirchenmaler, Restauratoren und Vergolder in Bayern
Bernhard Mayrhofer

The techniques used by church painters and gilders can be subdivided into three areas: the design of wall surfaces, the imitation of precious materials, and the processing of sheet metals and metal powders. They create illusions of spatiality on smooth walls, imitate precious materials, rare stones or expensive woods on walls, stucco or wood surfaces and, by means of numerous ornamental techniques, give rise to gold sheen, the effect of which is surprisingly close to massive gold.

Church painters and gilders work in close cooperation with builders, carpenters or sculptors to ensure the magnificent completion of a project. They clean, preserve, solidify, retouch and reconstruct surfaces of ceilings, walls, facades, murals and stuccoes, as well as sacred and profane furnishings and figures in churches, castles and listed objects. In addition, gilders create frames for historical or modern paintings, decorate the usually poliment-gilded surfaces with, for example, etching, punching, overlaying or printing material and thus give the works of art the appropriate shine.

The techniques of restoration are carried out as it was customary in the object’s period of time, and the used materials are made according to traditional recipes.


Bundesweites Verzeichnis Immaterielles Kulturerbe - Jubiläumsausgabe.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2023