Tempera Painting

This refers to an alternative to oil painting, with the oily medium being replaced by egg or some other equivalent. Such paintings could be made on canvas on board, or directly on wood. The advantage was the ability to achieve very bright, luminous colours, and the technique lent itself well to flat, decorative compositions. Tempera was common in medieval times, but was unused in early Victorian times.

Spencer Stanhope may have been the first to revive Tempera among the Victorians, but he lived largely abroad, and the rediscovery was apparently not really noticed back home. Walter Crane worked in Tempera from 1880, his first exhibited painting in the medium being Truth and the Traveller. Tempera really took off when Joseph Southall began to use it in 1883, and by his influence it was taken up by Birmingham School artists such as Gaskin and Gere. In London, an early revivalist was J. D. Batten, better known as an illustrator today, and the Newlyn School painter Marianne Stokes was also a convert from oils.

Lead by Southall, some of these painters, together with G. F. Watts, Holman Hunt and others, set up a Society of Painters in Tempera.

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