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Why Did Old Masters Use Eggs in Oil Paintings?

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Leonardo da Vinci seems to have taken “put an egg on it” to heart. 

In 15th-century Italy, oil paints largely replaced egg-based tempera paints. But despite the shift, da Vinci and other old masters experimented with paints that mixed egg and oil together. Now, scientists are learning more about why.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers created their own paint recipes to better understand the role of egg yolk on Renaissance canvases.


A holistic view on the role of egg yolk in Old Masters’ oil paints


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Russian icons were painted with egg tempera and you can identify a KGB fraud (there's a ton of them on the market) by licking it.


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In the 'nineties, the Rembrandt Research Project identified egg in the paint film of Rembrandt's pictures.  It was a bit of a revelation at the time, since for centuries artists had been trying to divine the secret recipe that yielded Rembrandt's peaked impastos.

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