You are on page 1of 5

Tempera

This article is about the painting medium. For the


Japanese food, see Tempura. For other uses, see
Tempera (disambiguation).
Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a perma-

A 1367 tempera on wood by Niccol Semitecolo.

1 History
Tempera painting has been found on early Egyptian
sarcophagi decorations. Many of the Fayum mummy
portraits use tempera, sometimes in combination with
encaustic.
A related technique has been used also in ancient and
early medieval paintings found in several caves and rockcut temples of India.[1] High-quality art with the help of
tempera was created in Bagh Caves between the late 4th
and 10th centuries AD and in the 7th century AD in Ravan Chhaya rock shelter, Orissa.[2]
The art technique was known from the classical world,
where it appears to have taken over from encaustic paintMadonna and Child by Duccio, tempera and gold on wood,
ing and was the main medium used for panel painting
1284, Siena
and illuminated manuscripts in the Byzantine world and
Medieval and Early renaissance Europe. Tempera painting was the primary panel painting medium for nearly evnent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored ery painter in the European Medieval and Early renaispigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usu- sance period up to 1500. For example, every surviving
ally a glutinous material such as egg yolk or some other panel painting by Michelangelo is egg tempera.
size). Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this Oil paint, which may have originated in Afghanistan bemedium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and tween the 5th and 9th centuries[3] and migrated westward
examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist. Egg tem- in the Middle Ages[4] eventually superseded tempera. Oil
pera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 replaced tempera as the principal medium used for creatwhen it was superseded by the invention of oil painting. A ing artwork during the 15th century in Early Netherlanpaint consisting of pigment and glue size commonly used dish painting in northern Europe. Around 1500, oil paint
in the United States as poster paint is also often referred replaced tempera in Italy. In the 19th and 20th centuries,
to as tempera paint, although the binders and sizes in there were intermittent revivals of tempera technique in
this paint are dierent from traditional tempera paint.
Western art, among the Pre-Raphaelites, Social Realists,
1

TECHNIQUE

and others. Tempera painting continues to be used in 2.2 Tempera grassa


Greece and Russia where it is the traditional medium for
Orthodox icons.
Adding oil in no more than a 1:1 ratio with the egg yolk by
volume produces a water soluble medium with many of
the color eects of oil paint, although it cannot be painted
thickly.

Technique

2.3 Pigments

Tempera is traditionally created by hand-grinding dry


powdered pigments into a binding agent or medium, such
Some of the pigments used by medieval painters, such as
as egg, glue, honey, water, milk (in the form of casein)
cinnabar (contains mercury), orpiment (contains arsenic),
and a variety of plant gums.
or lead white (contains lead) are highly toxic. Most artists
Tempera painting starts with placing a small amount of today use modern synthetic pigments, which are less toxic
the powdered pigment onto a palette, dish or bowl and but have similar color properties to the older pigments.
adding about an equal volume of the binder and mix- Even so, many (if not most) modern pigments are still
ing. Some pigments require slightly more binder, some dangerous unless certain precautions are taken; these inrequire less. A few drops of distilled water are added; clude keeping pigments wet in storage to avoid breathing
then the binder (egg emulsion) is added in small incre- their dust.
ments to the desired transparency. The more egg emulsion, the more transparent the paint.

2.4 Application
2.1

Egg tempera

The most common form of classical tempera painting is


egg tempera. For this form most often only the contents of the egg yolk is used. The white of the egg and
the membrane of the yolk are discarded (the membrane
of the yolk is dangled over a receptacle and punctured to
drain o the liquid inside). Egg yolk is never used by itself with pigment; it dries almost immediately and crackles when it is dry. Some agent is always added, in variable
proportions. One recipe calls for vinegar (1:1 proportion
to egg yolk by volume); other recipes suggest white wine
(1 part yolk, 2 parts wine). Some schools of egg tempera
use various mixtures of egg yolk and water.

Tempera paint dries rapidly. It is normally applied in


thin, semi-opaque or transparent layers. Tempera painting allows for great precision when used with traditional techniques that require the application of numerous
small brush strokes applied in a cross-hatching technique.
When dry, it produces a smooth matte nish. 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. In this respect the colors of an
unvarnished tempera painting resemble a pastel, although
the color deepens if a varnish is applied. On the other
hand, tempera colors do not change over time,[5] whereas
oil paints darken, yellow, and become transparent with
age.[6]

When used to paint icons on church walls, liquid myrrh is


sometimes added to the mixture to give the paint a pleas- 2.5 Ground
ing odor, particularly as worshipers may nd the egg tempera somewhat pungent for quite some time after comple- Tempera adheres best to an absorbent ground that has a
tion.
lower oil content than the tempera binder used[7] (the
is fat over lean, and never
The paint mixture has to be constantly adjusted to main- traditional rule of thumb
[8]
The
ground traditionally used
the
other
way
around).
tain a balance between a greasy and watery consisis
inexible
Italian
gesso,
and
the substrate is usually
tency by adjusting the amount of water and yolk. As
[9]
rigid
as
well.
Historically
wood
panels were used as the
tempera dries, the artist will add more water to preserve
masonite and
substrate,
and
more
recently
un-tempered
the consistency and to balance the thickening of the yolk
modern
composite
boards
have
been
employed.
Heavy
on contact with air. Once prepared, the paint cannot be
paper
is
also
used.
stored. Egg tempera is water-resistant, but not waterproof.
Dierent preparations use the egg white or the whole egg 2.6 Pre-made paints
for dierent eect. Other additives such as oil and wax
emulsions can modify the medium.
Apart from the traditional process of mixing pigment
Egg tempera is not a exible paint and requires sti with egg yolk, new methods include egg tempera sold
boards; painting on canvas will cause cracks to form and in tubes by manufacturers such as Sennelier and Dalerchips of paint to fall o.
Rowney. These paints do contain a slight amount of oil

3.2

20th-century Indian art

3.2 20th-century Indian art


In the early part of the 20th century, a large number
of Indian artist, notably of Bengal school took up tempera as one of their primary media of expression. Artists
such as Gaganendranath Tagore, Asit Kumar Haldar,
Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Kalipada Ghoshal
and Sughra Rababi were foremost. After the 1950s,
artists such as Jamini Roy and Ganesh Pyne established
tempera as a medium for the new age artists of India.

3.3 Tempera in contemporary art

Pietro Lorenzetti's Tarlati polyptych, Tempera and gold on panel,


1320

Other practicing tempera artists include, Philip Aziz,


Ernst Fuchs, Antonio Roybal, George Huszar, Donald
Jackson, Tim Lowly, Altoon Sultan, Shaul Shats, Sandro
Chia, Tim Donovan, Alex Colville, Jeremy Gordon,
Robert Vickrey, Ganesh Pyne, Koo Schadler Fred Wessel, Phil Schirmer.

4 Gallery of tempera art


to enhance durability within the container. Marc Chagall
used Sennelier egg tempera tube paints extensively.

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, Florence,


Tempera on canvas, c. 1486
Guido da Siena, Church of San Regolo, Siena, Tempera and gold on panel, 1285-1295

Tempera artists

Although tempera has been out of favor since the Late


Renaissance and Baroque eras, it has been periodically
rediscovered by later artists such as William Blake, the
Nazarenes, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Joseph Southall.
The 20th century saw a signicant revival of tempera.
European painters who worked with tempera include
Giorgio de Chirico, Otto Dix, Eliot Hodgkin, Pyke Koch
and Pietro Annigoni, who used an emulsion of egg yolks,
stand oil and varnish;.[10]

Madonna and Child with saints polyptych, Duccio,


Tempera and gold on wood, 13111318
Madonna by Sassetta, Cortona, Tempera on wood,
1435
Sandro Botticelli, Tempera on panel, 14901500
Crivelli, Tempera on wood, transferred to canvas,
1470
Raphael, Tempera and gold on wood, 15031505

3.1

Tempera revival
American art

in

20th-century

Marianne Stokes, Melisande (Stokes), Tempera on


canvas, 18951898

The tempera medium was used by American artists


such as the Regionalists Andrew Wyeth, Thomas Hart
Benton and his student Roger Medearis; expressionists
Ben Shahn, Mitchell Siporin and John Langley Howard,
magic realists George Tooker, Paul Cadmus, Jared
French, Julia Thecla and Louise E. Marianetti; Art Students League of New York instructors Kenneth Hayes
Miller and William C. Palmer, Social Realists Kyra
Markham, Isabel Bishop, Reginald Marsh, and Noel
Rockmore, Edward Laning, Anton Refregier, Jacob
Lawrence, Rudolph F. Zallinger, Robert Vickrey, Peter
Hurd, and science ction artist John Schoenherr, notable
as the cover artist of Dune.

Anglique Bgue, Odalisque, Tempera and gold on


wood, 2012
Altar Frontal with Christ in Majesty and the Life of
Saint Martin. The Walters Art Museum.
The Crucixion; Saint Michael. The Walters Art
Museum.
Saint Jerome in His Study. The Walters Art Museum.
Christ Enthroned with Saints Sebastian, Leo, Alexander, Peregrine, Philip, Ruaniaus, Justa, Concordius
and Decentius, by Bernardo Daddi, 14th century

See also
Glue-size

References

EXTERNAL LINKS

Chifan C. Alexandru, " Symbol of hand in ne arts,


Artes Publication 2013, Iai, Romania, ISBN 978606-547-100-9

8 External links

[1] Ancient and medieval Indian cave paintings Internet


encyclopedia, Wondermondo, June 10, 2010. Wondermondo.com. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2012-07-29.

About Egg Tempera

[2] Ravan Chhaya rock shelter near Sitabinji, Wondermondo, May 23, 2010. Wondermondo.com. 2010-0523. Retrieved 2012-07-29.

The Society of Tempera Painters

[3] Worlds oldest oil paintings in Afghanistan.


Reuters.com. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
[4] Theophilus mentions oil media in the 12th Century
[5] Mayer, Ralph, 1985. The Artists Handbook of Materials and Techniques (4th ed.). New York: Viking Penguin
Inc., p. 215
[6] Mayer, 1985, p. 119
[7] Doerner, Max, 1946. The Materials of the Artist and Their
Use in Painting. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. p. 230.
[8] Mayer, Ralph, 1976. The Artists Handbook of Materials and Techniques (3rd ed.). New York: Viking Penguin
Inc., pp. 165, 253.
[9] Mayer, 1976, p. 269.
[10] centraalmuseum.nl

Further reading
Altoon Sultan, The Luminous Brush: Painting With
Egg Tempera, Watson-Guptill Publications, New
York 1999.
Richard J. Boyle, Richard Newman, Hilton Brown:
Milk and Eggs: The American Revival of Tempera
Painting, 1930-1950 Brandywine River Museum
Sta, Akron Art Museum Sta ISBN 0295981903
(0-295-98190-3) Softcover, University of Washington Press
Lara Broecke,'Cennino Cenninis Il Libro dell'Arte:
a New English Translation and Commentary with
Italian Transcription', Archetype Publications 2015.
ISBN 978-190-949-228-8
Daniel V. Thompson, Jr., Materials and Techniques
of Medieval Painting, Dover: explanation and expansion on Cenninis works
Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. The Practice of Tempera
Painting: Materials and Methods, Dover Publications, Inc. 1962..

Egg Tempera Painting

Making Egg Tempera


Tempera Paintings on Cloth in England
Egg Tempera Resources
Step-by-step Egg Tempera Technique

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

9.1

Text

Tempera Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempera?oldid=656012596 Contributors: MichaelTinkler, William Avery, Heron, Atlan,


Olivier, Menchi, Ellywa, Julesd, LMB, Rholton, Sunray, UtherSRG, Archenzo, OldakQuill, Alexf, Nova77, Zeimusu, Beland, Oknazevad, Kate, Dceck, Pjacobi, LindsayH, Czrisher, Viriditas, Alansohn, Eixo, Visviva, Prattora~enwiki, Uttaddmb, Mandarax, Graham87,
Sparkit, John Molnar, MWAK, FlaBot, Eubot, Kummi, YurikBot, RobotE, Billmo, RussBot, Gaius Cornelius, NawlinWiki, Bota47, JoanneB, Che829, Rykotsusei, Yakudza, SmackBot, Mattarata, Delldot, Athinaios, Gilliam, Hmains, Chris the speller, Bluebot, Quinsareth,
Octahedron80, Namangwari, Colonies Chris, Scwlong, VMS Mosaic, Wine Guy, Here.it.comes.again, Amphytrite, Just plain Bill, Ceoil,
SashatoBot, Missamo80, Filippowiki, Beetstra, Poog, Waxeggoil, Halfblue, Ewulp, Bill Wrigley, Amandajm, Thijs!bot, Stunnashades12,
Mcdonal6, AntiVandalBot, Handsaw, Fayenatic london, Modernist, JAnDbot, Iachimo, Freshacconci, Magioladitis, Mrs Scarborough, Prestonmcconkie, Fabrictramp, Daarznieks, Prganapathy, Artemis-Arethusa, R'n'B, Johnbod, Skier Dude, Dankeselo, Ernstfuchs, Fountains
of Bryn Mawr, GDeCourcy, Idioma-bot, VolkovBot, Je G., Lindapaul, Ferengi, JhsBot, Broadbot, Davin, VanishedUserABC, SieBot,
BotMultichill, Oda Mari, Pymouss, Segregold, Madacs, ClueBot, Rhythmpig, Jusdafax, Estirabot, PL290, Digitalkink, Addbot, Binary
TSO, MagnusA.Bot, Lightbot, Zorrobot, Luckas-bot, Yobot, Amirobot, Piano non troppo, Theseeker4, Stonesitter, Frankenpuppy, Xqbot,
Isaiah53, Mattis, FrescoBot, OgreBot, Great lavra, Lotje, Vrenator, Miracle Pen, Andrea105, Ripchip Bot, Andrujka, Gubkaandrea,
EmausBot, Escalader, VampireDoctor, Thecheesykid, John Angel, Dwiyninger, Erianna, Ramukyajiv, Donner60, Sbcennini, ClueBot NG,
Erbaluce70, Cquoi, Widr, Torcdonovan, Jongernon, AnMayne, Matnatlak, Verbcatcher, Cloudlightning, SuzanneScherer, ChrisGualtieri,
Jeccabreen, Eyesnore, Subirnag, Masterwallabee, Untold Unfold, Richardtoft, ScoriacTears, Archiloc, Cennino and Anonymous: 131

9.2

Images

File:Commons-logo.svg Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/Commons-logo.svg License: ? Contributors: ? Original


artist: ?
File:Duccio_The-Madonna-and-Child-128.jpg
Source:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Duccio_
The-Madonna-and-Child-128.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http://www.aiwaz.net/gallery/duccio-di-buoninsegna/gc16
Original artist: Duccio
File:Niccol_Semitecolo_-_Two_Christians_before_the_Judges.jpg Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/
Niccol%C3%B2_Semitecolo_-_Two_Christians_before_the_Judges.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http://bode.diee.unica.it/
~{}giua/SEBASTIAN/ Original artist: Niccol Semitecolo
File:Tarlati-polyptych-Pietro_Lorenzetti_Pieve_di_santa_Maria_Arezzo.jpg Source:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
commons/3/37/Tarlati-polyptych-Pietro_Lorenzetti_Pieve_di_santa_Maria_Arezzo.jpg License:
Public domain Contributors:
http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/l/lorenzet/pietro/index.html Original artist: Pietro Lorenzetti

9.3

Content license

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0