Tempera Paintings

Once upon a time tempera was the dominant medium that paintings in the western world were made using. This is a storied medium that was used as far back as the fourth century AD and would become popular with painters who wanted to create monumental works that would last the test of time. It took some time to create a recipe for tempera that would last but once a long-lasting mix was discovered it would dominate the western art world up until the middle Renaissance.

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Tempera Paintings

Once upon a time tempera was the dominant medium that paintings in the western world were made using. This is a storied medium that was used as far back as the fourth century AD and would become popular with painters who wanted to create monumental works that would last the test of time. It took some time to create a recipe for tempera that would last but once a long-lasting mix was discovered it would dominate the western art world up until the middle Renaissance. As oil became more and more popular tempura fell out of use, but in recent years it has seen a revival as modern artists look to the past to create unique imagery.

Making Tempera Paint

Making paint requires mixing a colour pigment with some binder that holds the pigment together and helps it hold its form when it’s applied to the surface. In tempera, the binder was traditionally egg yolk. But while the earliest forms seem to have been made by simply mixing pigment with egg yolk it was discovered that this results in brittle images. Eventually, ingredients like vinegar, wine, and various types of oil were used to help make more durable final products. Please note that you should never confuse the artistic medium of tempera with the method of frying used in Japan, known as tempura. Tempera isn’t nearly as delicious, and tempura is even messier to work with than paint.


Artists Known for Their Tempera Paintings

The most famous tempera artist was probably Michelangelo. All of the paintings we have from that legendary painter were done using the medium of tempera. Another famous artist who used the medium was Sandro Botticelli. This Italian painter helped to usher in the Renaissance with his beautifully crafted works depicting members of Italian high society and scenes from mythology. A modern artist known for his use of tempera is Andrew Wyeth. This modern master created atmospheric realist painting depicting rural America.


Some Famous Tempera Paintings

The most famous tempera piece of all time is probably “The Birth of Venus.” This 1485 painting by Sandro Botticelli depicts the goddess Venus rising out of the sea atop a seashell. On the right side of her we see a physical manifestation of the Spring season, and on the left, there is Zephyr, the god of wind, and a female spirit thought to represent the lesser winds. This painting has become one of the most iconic images to come out of the Renaissance, symbolising the goddess Venus and the very concept of beauty.


Browse and collect original Tempera Paintings artworks directly from independent artists from around the world on Artailer.ca. Artailer features 1000s of original graphite drawings, pen and ink drawings, and charcoal drawings. Filter and select the art drawing you love by category, style, subject, colour, mood, decor styles and gift ideas.