tempera

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tempera

(tĕm`pərə), painting method in which finely ground pigment is mixed with a solidifying base such as albumen, fig sap, or thin glue. When used in mural painting it is also known as fresco secco (dry frescofresco
[Ital.,=fresh], in its pure form the art of painting upon damp, fresh, lime plaster. In Renaissance Italy it was called buon fresco to distinguish it from fresco secco, which was executed upon dry plaster with pigments having a glue or casein base.
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) to distinguish it from the buon fresco (true fresco) applied to damp walls. The name distemper is given to the method when a glue base is involved. When used on wood panels, as it most frequently was for altarpieces and other easel pictures, it was applied on a gesso underpainting that was smooth, very white and brilliant. Tempera's particular advantage is that clear, pure colors are produced, which are not so subject to oxidation as are oils. However, tempera does not lend itself to the expression of nuances of color and atmosphere. Well known from antiquity, tempera was the exclusive panel medium in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, and in Italy it was not supplanted by oil until c.1500. In the north oil superseded tempera about a century earlier. Tempera was also much used in combination with oils. In modern times there has been a revival of tempera painting. Böcklin and Hodler in the 19th cent. experimented with it, and some 20th-century American artists, notably Ben Shahn and Andrew Wyeth, have renewed an interest in the old medium. Pigment mixed with egg yolk applied to a sized panel is the common preparation. In industrial art, notably for posters, a simplified distemper is often used. An excellent account of the early Renaissance use of tempera is found in Cennino Cennini's Treatise on Painting (c.1437, tr. 1933).

Bibliography

See P. Albenda, Creative Painting with Tempera (1970).

Tempera

A rapidly drying paint consisting of egg white, gum, pigment, and water, used in painting murals.

Tempera

 

a painting medium in which the paint binder is an emulsion of water and egg yolk or of plant or animal glue dissolved in water and mixed with oil or with oil and varnish.

Tempera, which was already well known in ancient Egypt, became the basic medium of easel painting in the Middle Ages and was sometimes used for murals on medieval buildings. The icon painters of the Middle Ages painted with tempera on primed boards and coated the finished work with drying oil or oil varnish. Tempera was supplanted by oil painting in Western Europe in the 15th century and in Russia in the 18th century. At the turn of the 20th century tempera was again widely used for easel painting and decorative and applied art. Contemporary artists working in tempera do not coat their paintings with varnish, and, therefore, their works have a velvety matte finish. The colors of works in tempera are incomparably more resistant to external influences and retain their original freshness longer than those in oil paintings.

REFERENCES

Filatov, V. V. Russkaia stankovaia tempernaia zhivopis’: Tekhnika i restavratsiia. Moscow, 1961.
Wehlte, K. Temperamalerei. 4th ed. Ravensburg [1961].

tempera

[′tem·pə·rə]
(materials)
An opaque watercolor paint consisting of pigment ground in water and mixed with egg yolk.
A poster paint that uses glue or gum as a binder.

tempera

A rapidly drying paint consisting of egg white (or egg yolk, or a mixture of egg white and yolk), gum, pigment, and water; esp. used in painting murals.

tempera

1. a painting medium for powdered pigments, consisting usually of egg yolk and water
2. 
a. any emulsion used as a painting medium, with casein, glue, wax, etc., as a base
b. the paint made from mixing this with pigment
3. the technique of painting with tempera