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a translucent or opaque colored glass used in making mosaics. Translucent smalt is glass colored by refractory dye-stuffs, and opaque smalt is obtained by introducing into the glass substances that suppress transparency, such as tin dioxide, antimony oxide, and other materials. The glass is shaped into small cubes or plates by stamping or cleaving. Veined and spotted smalts are also made, with smalts of several hues joined in one piece by heat treatment, as well as gold and silver smalts, in which a foil is pressed between the base layer of glass and the surface layer.
Smalt, with a limited selection of hues, was used in antiquity as a supplement to stone in mosaics. A wealth of colors was later used in the Byzantine Empire, Rus’, and Italy. In the 17th to the 19th century, smalts were widely used in Europe in imitating oil paintings; for example, in Russia smalt mosaics were created by M. V. Lomonosov. In the 20th century the use of smalt mosaics is one of the leading techniques in monumental art. [23–1790–]