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Encyclopedia > Tempera
A 1367 tempera on wood by Niccolò Semitecolo.
A 1367 tempera on wood by Niccolò Semitecolo.

Tempera (or egg tempera) is the primary type of artist's paint and associated art techniques that were prevalent in Southern Europe's Middle Ages, and the required medium for Orthodox icons. It is paint made by binding pigment in an egg medium. However, the term tempera in modern times is also used by some manufacturers to refer to ordinary poster paint, which is a form of gouache that has nothing to do with real egg tempera. Download high resolution version (830x728, 183 KB)A tempera named Two Christians before the Judges. ... Download high resolution version (830x728, 183 KB)A tempera named Two Christians before the Judges. ... Niccolò Semitecolo was a 14th century Italian painter of the early-Renaissance period, active mainly in Venice. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Techniques and materials related to art: Traditional techniques: Acrylic paint Charcoal Clay Collage Drawing Fresco Glass Gouache Gum arabic Lithography Oil painting Paint Painting Pen and ink Pencil Pigment Pottery Serigraphy Tempera Watercolor painting Modern techniques: Found objects Video art Photographs Installations and Assemblage Performances Interactive multimedia Land art, shaping... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Separate articles treat Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. ... The Savior Not Made By Hands (1410s, by Andrei Rublev) An icon (from Greek εικων, eikon, image) is an artistic visual representation or symbol of anything considered holy and divine, such as God, saints or deities. ... Gouache (from the Italian guazzo, water paint, splash) is a type of watercolor paint, made heavier and more opaque by the addition of a white pigment (chalk, Chinese white, etc. ... Corridor in the Asylum, black chalk and gouache on pink paper by Van Gogh Gouache (from the Italian guazzo, water paint, splash) or Bodycolour (or Bodycolor, the terms preferred by Art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. ...

One can know by washing breakfast dishes that egg yolk dries quickly and adheres firmly. Tempera was traditionally created by hand-grinding dry powdered pigments into egg yolk (which was the primary binding agent or medium), sometimes along with other materials such as honey, water, milk (in the form of casein) and a variety of plant gums. Oil paint was invented in the north of Europe during the Middle Ages (Theophilus mentions oil media in the 12th Century) and was the principal medium used afterwards in northern Europe. Italy, Greece, and Russia were the major centers of tempera painting. Around the year 1500, oil paint replaced tempera in Italy. Tempera continued and continues to be used in Greece and Russia. In the twentieth century there was a revival of tempera technique in western art, primarily among the Social Realists. An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white An egg yolk is the part of an egg which serves as the food source for the developing embryo inside. ... Natural Ultramarine pigment in powdered form. ... An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white An egg yolk is the part of an egg which serves as the food source for the developing embryo inside. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Honey (disambiguation). ... Impact from a water drop causes an upward rebound jet surrounded by circular capillary waves. ... A glass of cows milk. ... Casein (from Latin caseus cheese) is the most predominant phosphoprotein found in milk and cheese. ... Mona Lisa, Oil on wood panel painting by Leonardo da Vinci. ... 1500 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... A Diego Rivera mural depicting factory workers in Detroit Social Realism is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts working class activities as heroic. ...

Tempera paint dries rapidly. The techniques of tempera painting can be more precise when used with traditional techniques that require the application of numerous small brush strokes applied in a cross-hatching technique. The colors, which are painted over each other, resemble a pastel when unvarnished, and are deeper colors when varnished. Albrecht Dürer, Veronica, 1513. ... Pastel is an art medium in the form of a stick, consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. ... Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. ...

Tempera is normally applied in thin, semi-opaque or transparent layers. When dry, it produces a smooth matte finish. Because it cannot be applied in thick layers as oil paints can, tempera paintings rarely have the deep color saturation that oil paintings can achieve. On the other hand, tempera colors do not change over time[1], whereas oil paints darken, yellow, and become transparent with age.[2] Matte refers to the following: the surface surrounding a framed picture, between the picture itself and the frame; usually made from coloured card a surface with a non-glossy finish (also matt or mat) a filmmaking technique a smelted sulfide material in extractive metallurgy a form of the name Matthew... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Chromaticity. ...

True tempera paintings are quite permanent, and examples from the first centuries AD still exist.



Tempera must be applied to an absorbent ground that has a lower “oil” content than the tempera binder used (the traditional rule of thumb is “fat over lean... and never the other way around”). Since the ground traditionally used is inflexible Italian Gesso, the substrate has to be rigid as well. Historically wood panels were used as the substrate, and more recently un-tempered masonite and modern composite boards have been employed. Gesso is the Italian word for chalk (akin to the Greek word gypsum), and is a powdered form of the mineral calcium carbonate used in art. ... Masonite is an a type of hardboard formed using the Mason method (invented by William H. Mason) by taking wooden chips and blasting them into long fibres using steam and then forming it into boards. ...

Making tempera

  1. Place a small amount of the pigment paste onto a palette, dish or bowl.
  2. Add about an equal volume of the egg medium and mix well making sure there are no lumps of pigment. Some pigments require slightly more egg medium, some require less.
  3. Add distilled water (usually less than a teaspoon per egg yolk), trial and error will dictate just how much water is required.

Most often only the contents of the yolk are used. The white of the egg and the membrane of the yolk are discarded. After isolating the yolk and drying the membrane slightly by rolling it on a paper towel, pick up the yolk gently by the membrane, dangle it over a receptacle and puncture the membrane with [for instance] a toothpick to drain off the liquid inside. Natural Ultramarine pigment in powdered form. ... Bottle for Distilled water in the Real Farmacia in Madrid. ... An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white An egg yolk is the part of an egg which serves as the food source for the developing embryo inside. ...

If the paint contains too much yolk, the paint will look greasy and clumpy; too much water makes it run. So makers of paint have to finely adjust the amount of water and yolk to achieve a consistent paint. As tempera dries, the artist will add more water to preserve the consistency and to balance the thickening of the yolk on contact with air.

Different preparations use the egg white or the whole egg for different effect. Also other additives such as oil and wax emulsions can modify the medium. Adding oil for instance in no more than a 1:1 ratio with the egg yolk by volume will produce a water soluble medium with many of the color effects of oil paint, although it cannot be painted thickly.

Many of the pigments used by medieval painters, such as Vermilion (made from cinnabar, a mercury ore), are highly toxic. Most artists today use modern synthetic pigments, which are less toxic but have similar color properties to the older pigments. Even so, many (if not most) modern pigments are still dangerous to be used without care, and precautions such as keeping pigments wet in storage must be taken to avoid breathing their dust. Vermilion, also spelled vermillion, when found naturally-occurring, is an opaque reddish orange pigment, used since antiquity, originally derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar. ... Cinnabar, sometimes written cinnabarite, is a name applied to red mercury(II) sulfide (HgS), or native vermilion, the common ore of mercury. ... Color is an important part of the visual arts. ...

Tempera artists

Prominent egg tempera artists include nearly every painter of the Italian Renaissance before 1500 AD. For example, every surviving panel painting by Michelangelo is egg tempera. American artists of the twentieth-century revival include the Regionalist Thomas Hart Benton and his student Roger Medearis; Social Realists Isabel Bishop, Reginald Marsh, and Ben Shahn; Paul Cadmus, Jared French, George Tooker, Robert Vickrey, and Andrew Wyeth. The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 14th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe. ... 1500 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Michelangelo (disambiguation). ... In art, regionalism is a realist modern American art movement wherein artists shunned the city and rapidly developing technological advances to focus on scenes of rural life. ... Thomas Hart Benton, painter Thomas Hart Benton, or Tom Benton (April 15, 1889 - January 19, 1975) was an American muralist of the Regionalist school. ... Roger Medearis (1920-2001) was an American Regionalist painter. ... A Diego Rivera mural depicting factory workers in Detroit Social Realism is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts working class activities as heroic. ... Isabel Bishop (March 3, 1902 – March 19, 1988) was an American painter and graphic artist, who produced numerous paintings and prints of working women in realistic urban settings. ... Reginald Marsh (14 March 1898 - 3 July 1954) was an American painter most notable for his detailed depictions of life in New York City in the 1920s. ... Sacco & Vanzetti mosaic by Ben Shahn, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY Ben Shahn (September 12, 1898 - March 14, 1969) was a Lithuanian-born American artist and teacher. ... Paul Cadmus photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1937 Paul Cadmus (December 17, 1904 - December 12, 1999) was an artist born in New York City. ... Jared French (1905-1988) was a painter who specialized in the ancient medium of egg tempera. ... Government Bureau (1956), egg tempera on panel George Claire is harry Tooker (born August 5, 1920) is one of Magic Realisms most prominent visual artists. ... Robert Vickrey (born 1926) is a Massachusetts-based artist and author who specializes in the ancient medium of egg tempera. ... Andrew Newell Wyeth (born July 12, 1917) is an American realist painter, one of the best-known of the 20th century and sometimes referred to as the Painter of the People due to his popularity with the American public. ...

Other practicing tempera artists include Linda Paul, Robin-Lee Hall Philip Aziz, Michael Bergt, Rob Milliken, Neville Sattentau, Koo Schadler, Phil Schirmer, Ernst Fuchs, Antonio Roybal, George Huszar, Altoon Sultan, Grégoire Michonze, Sarah Mceneaney, and Shaul Shats. Philip Aziz is an internationally acclaimed Canadian artist (painter, sculptor and designer of jewelled metal works, alter pieces, chalices and crosses) in Canadas book of Whos Who of Greek Orthodox-Lebanese descent. ... Ernst Fuchs (born February 13, 1930) is an Austrian visionary painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. ... This article lacks information on the importance of the subject matter. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Altoon Sultan is a Vermont-based artist and author who specializes in rural landscapes painted in egg tempera. ... Grégoire Michonze, oil on canvas Grégoire Michonze (1902-1982) (variant last name Michonznic) was a Russian-French painter, born in 1902 in Kishineff (Bessarabia), Russia. ... Shaul Shats, Broshim, tempera on paper, 1990s Shaul Shats, Olive Trees, tempera on paper, 1990s Shaul Shats (1944- ) (variant name Shaul Shatz) is an Israeli painter, printmaker and illustrator, born in 1944 in Kibbutz Sarid, Israel. ...


  1. ^ Ralph Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Fourth ed., Viking Penguin Inc., New York 1985, p. 215
  2. ^ Mayer, p. 119

Further reading

  • Altoon Sultan, The Luminous Brush: Painting With Egg Tempera, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York 1999.
  • Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. (translator), Cennino de Cennini, Il Libro Dell' Arte, Dover, the most well known treatise on painting and other related techniques
  • Daniel V. Thompson, Jr., Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting, Dover: explanation and expansion on Cennini's works
  • Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. The Practice of Tempera Painting: Materials and Methods, Dover Publications, Inc. 1962..

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Painting & Drawing - Tempera (1206 words)
Tempera was used all over the world: for the icons of the Russian and Greek churches, for panels of Italian painters, for Islamic manuscripts, and even for modern American painters.
Tempera paint is the most common medium used by Muslims artists to illuminate manuscripts and documents because of their delicacy.
Tempera was widely used in Europe, but mostly associated with Italian panel paintings from the 13 th to the 15 th century.
History of Tempera Page (1306 words)
The traditional use of tempera for mural and panel painting continued in Western Europe during the Romanesque period, but it was in Italy that the medium was given new impetus in the matter of representation.
Tempera was still retained, however, particularly for large wall decorations by such noteworthy artists as the Venetian Tiepolo (1696-1770), renowned for his fresco decorations, and the Spaniard Goya (1746-1828), who painted the frescoes of the cupola of S. Antonio de la Florida in Madrid.
Its distinctive characteristics have enabled tempera to survive the era of oil painting, a medium which in turn appears to be in competition with a newer medium, acrylics.
  More results at FactBites »



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