The term Tempera is applied to any paint in which pigment is tempered (mixed) with a water-based binding medium which is usually egg yolk.

Egg tempera is applied to a smooth surface such as vellum (for illuminated manuscripts) or more commonly to hardwood panels prepared with gesso - a mixture of chalk and size (glue). Hog hair brushes are used to apply the gesso.

A layer of coarse gesso (gesso grosso) is followed by successive layers of fine gesso (gesso sotile) that are sanded between coats to provide a smooth, yet absorbent ground. The paint is applied with fine sable brushes in thin layers, using light brush strokes.

Tempera dries quickly to form a tough skin with a satin sheen. The luminous white surface of the gesso combined with the overlaid paint produces the brilliant crispness and rich colours particular to this medium.

Egg tempera paintings are frequently gilded with gold. Leaves of finely beaten gold are applied to a bole (reddish brown clay) base and polished by burnishing.

Materials for tempera panel painting:
  • Egg white
  • Egg yolk
  • Egg yolk binding medium
  • Size (glue)
  • Mortar and pestle



  • See http://www.btinternet.com/~eggtempera for more information on Egg Tempera paintings

    Tem"pe*ra (?), n. [It.] (Paint.)

    A mode or process of painting; distemper.

    ⇒ The term is applied especially to early Italian painting, common vehicles of which were yolk of egg, yolk and white of egg mixed together, the white juice of the fig tree, and the like.

     

    © Webster 1913


    Tem"pe*ra (?), n. [It.] (Paint.)

    A mode or process of painting; distemper.

     

    © Webster 1913

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