Tempera paint is often called egg tempera because of egg yolks or whole eggs in its composition. It also consists of some milk, water, honey, glue and pigment. The oldest tempera painting is dated by the 1st century AD so this medium is a really long-lasting one.
Short history of a medium
Scientists don’t have exact data, but tempera is thought to appear in Antique time. According to some documents, in Greece the highest form of art was panel painting which included use of tempera. But, unfortunately, not a single example of that paintings survived.
The raise of tempera painting was in Constantinople in the Early Middle Ages where it became the main medium for icon drawing. It widely spread to Russia which was a part of Eastern Orthodox zone and brought the development of Russian medieval icon painting.
In Europe tempera painting got its development between 13-15th centuries. As use of tempera was limited in time, and this medium was mostly used during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, almost all European tempera works feature Christianity or mythology objects:
- The Birth of Venus — maybe the most recognizable work of that time by Sandro Botticelli;
- various icons depicting Madonna and Christ by Duccio;
- portraits of nobility.
Soon after this the oil paint was invented, and Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were the first European artists to use it. In the following time artists only used tempera as a fast drying background for their works.
In 19th and 20th centuries some artists came back to this medium and created several artworks with a help of it: William Blake, Edvard Munch, Otto Dix. But, in general, nowadays this medium is only used for Orthodox icons painting.
Main characteristics of tempera paint
Tempera could be applied on different surfaces: canvas, wood, textile etc, but the surface must be prepared and be smooth. To paint on wood, artists used a gesso — chalk and size mix. Tempera was slowly applied in several very thin and transparent layers. This medium dries much quicker than oil but doesn’t provide an artists with colour depth of oil. In the same time, tempera doesn’t change colour after drying and, stored properly, can last for a really long time.
At ART.biz — an online Gallery collection — you can buy tempera artworks painted by artists from all countries of the world. We offer for sale only original paintings and organise a worldwide delivery of each artwork.