wax painting

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wax painting:

see encausticencaustic,
painting medium in which the binder for the pigment is wax or wax and resin. Examples of encaustic tomb portraits from Roman Egypt bear witness to the durability of the medium, which is thought to have been widely used in ancient times.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wax Painting


a painting technique that uses beeswax as a binder. The limited chemical activity and moisture resistance of beeswax permit paintings done in wax to retain the initial freshness of their color and the density and texture of the color layer for centuries.

Wax painting was used in ancient Egypt to paint temple facades as early as the 14th century B.C. In ancient Greece, technology of the most durable kind of wax painting by the heat method (encaustic, from the Greek enkaio —I burn) was developed by the fifth century B.C.; strongly heated wax paints were applied to a section of the base that was heated by a white-hot bronze shovel. According to Pliny the Elder, Zeuxis and Parrhasius painted in this method (their works have not been preserved). Fayumic portraits (first century B.C. to the fourth century A.D.) and Byzantine icons (prior to the 12th century) were done with wax paints in which the encaustic paints were gradually replaced by wax paints on a turpentine base (known as the cold method) and by wax tempera (emulsions with an admixture of volatile oils), less durable but not so complicated. At present, wax painting is used mainly to repair worn-out paint layers and to fix them in restoration work.


Shmidt, G. Tekhnika antichnoi freski i enkaustiki. Moscow, 1936.
Kudriavtsev, E. V. Tekhnika restavratsii kartin. Moscow, 1948.
Khvostenko, V. V. Tekhnika enkaustiki. Moscow, 1956.
Kiplik, D. I. Tekhnika zhivopisi. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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