Finding a Swedish antique with original paint is rare today. Original 18th century finishes were achieved by multiple layers of a pigment such as black Iron Oxide, mixed with linseed oil.
The typical Gustavian grey that is so loved today, was reached by mixing these two ingredients and the depth of the color depended upon how much iron oxide was used.
Swedish furniture from the Gustavian period usually has a dull matte finish, not the higher sheen finishes that we are acustomed to seeing on French and English antiques. Even on the very exclusive 18th century Swedish mahogany chests with marquetry and intarsia, a high sheen is not common.
The most typical colors from the Gustavian period were grey, yellow ochre and a Swedish blue. When one finds a Swedish antique with an original finish in tact you can see the difference immediatley. These pieces of Swedish furniture have SOUL.
Today we find mainly furniture that has been dryscraped with a razor, to reveal the older, original layers of paint below. Keep in mind that most pieces of furniture were repainted in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Dryscraping is a long process that can take over 100 man hours. This is why Swedish antiques and especially Gustavian furniture with original paint command such high prices.
Gilded and faux painted furniture was also prevalent during the 18th century. Gilding was reserved for the Royal palaces and more stately manor houses while faux painted furniture was more likely to be found in the rural country side in wealthy merchants homes. Swedes became masterful artists at Faux painting and there are very fine examples of faux porphry, marble and grain painting to be found in many Swedish houses.