Revealing Caravaggio’s Technique: Egg Tempera

Caravaggio’s artistry is known for its unique interplay of light and shadow. Luis Borrero delves into one specific element of Caravaggio’s technique: his use of egg tempera. This investigation addresses questions that have lingered among art enthusiasts regarding Caravaggio’s choice of this medium.

Exploring Primary Sources: Before delving into experiments, Luis reviews primary sources. He draws insights from the National Gallery in London’s technical bulletin, shedding light on Caravaggio’s tempera retouching. However, as we will discover, these historical sources leave some aspects shrouded in mystery.

Experiments and Insights: Luis takes us through four experiments, each offering a glimpse into Caravaggio’s complex technique. The central theme revolves around the intricate relationship between oil and tempera. Through various experiments, Luis unravels the complexities and nuances that Caravaggio may have employed.

Traditional Tempera Technique: We’ll explore the traditional tempera technique documented by Cennino Cennini. This method, using stack-processed lead white and egg yolk, harkens back to centuries-old practices, shedding light on Caravaggio’s artistic processes.

Conclusive Findings: Luis concludes that Caravaggio likely used tempera to enhance the play of light and transparency in his paintings. By retouching dried oil paintings with this medium, Caravaggio achieved distinct effects.

During this live presentation, I will explore Caravaggio’s use of egg tempera to apply final light touches to his paintings. Can egg tempera be mixed with oil? How did he achieve this effect?

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