Why did renaissance artists use oil paint instead of tempera.?

Question by profile deleted: Why did renaissance artists use oil paint instead of tempera.?
What properties did oil paint have over tempera that made renaissance arts make the switch?

Best answer:

Answer by moore850
oil paint allowed for slower drying times, brighter and more translucent colors (for layering effects), and other more advanced application techniques than tempera. Also, it was invented during the renaissance, so as a new medium more artists gravitated towards trying it out.

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8 Responses to Why did renaissance artists use oil paint instead of tempera.?

  1. TaffyMoon says:

    Tempera dried too quickly – with oils artists could alter the painting indefinately, therefore they could be spontaneous, not worrying they would be have mistakes on the canvas. In addition, the oils leave a lovely glow on the canvas, tempera does not. And yes, it was new – new technology, to be explored.

  2. Allameh G says:

    Oil paint offers a much wider tonal range meaning that you can have more shades of gray. It is also far more superior to tempera because it blends better and this can create more subtle and natural looking images. Another factor is the longevity of the paint, tempera’s primary binding medium is egg yolk and degrades quicker than oil paint. By renaissance I’m assuming you are referring to southern Europe, because oil paint had been adopted earlier than the renaissance in Flanders (current day Netherlands, Belgium and parts of France). A prime example of pre-renaissance Flemish artists using oil paints would be Jan Van Eyck.

  3. John F says:

    First, oil painting was a new medium, and anyone who found it challenging and interesting would jump at the chance to attempt something new in the field of art.

    Secondly, oil painting had the promise of being more durable, since the base for tempera was egg yolk. We know that egg yolk will stick to just about anything, but it can eventually be broken down and removed from surfaces.

    Thirdly, oil offered a luminosity which was not available with tempera. Glazing or painting of one transparent color over another would allow such a variety of effects.

    Fourthly, oil paints allowed a longer time to work with the paint to achieve color blending and changes during the painting process.

    Fifthly, oil paints could allow for a more textured surface than was available with tempera. Tempera could crack, if layered too thickly, while oils would stay more flexible over a longer period of time.

    Six, oil painting eventually found to work on primed canvas, which removed the necessity of heavy wooden panels to support and protect the tempera medium. This allowed art to become more portable and manageable.

    While the above mentioned characteristics were the essentials, there were many more appealing features of the medium which comes with experience and gaining confidence with it.

  4. Alpha Illustrations says:

    All the above are good answers.

  5. Harold Sink says:

    How about the fact that tempera was plastic based and wasn’t around during the renaissance period.

  6. whatscookin says:

    The main reason to develop oil painting, first in Italy, was the desire to create the transluscency of the human skin. The renaissance moved into the centre of human awareness, the individual. The discovery, that the horizon is on the eye level of the onloocker and that he is actually the centre of perception was another important factor of this evolution.
    Technically Tempera , which is based on egg’s white mixed to pigments, did not allow to work in multi layers and such create a perfect representation of the human skin.
    Lateron oil painting allowed other techniques, like fumato, etc

  7. kill_nino says:

    Oil paint was used in the middle ages as decorations for paintings hanged in the wall and shields used in tournaments because it is durable compared to tempera.

    Most Renaissance sources, in particular Vasari, credited northern European painters of the 15th century, and Jan van Eyck in particular, with the “invention” of painting with oil media on wood panel, however Theophilus clearly gives instructions for oil-based painting in his treatise, On Divers Arts, written in 1125. Early Netherlandish painting in the 15th century was however the first to make oil the usual painting medium, followed by the rest of Northern Europe, and only then Italy.

  8. penydred says:

    Oil paint was the hot new technology…..and luminescent to boot

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