Painting executed with ground pigment mixed with a water-soluble material, such as egg yolk, gum, or wax. The special ground for tempera painting is a rigid wood panel coated with thin layers of gesso, a preparation usually made of plaster of Paris and glue. Tempera paint is resistant to water and allows overpainting with more colour; the thin, transparent layers of paint produce a clear, luminous effect. The exclusive medium for panel painting in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, it was largely superseded in the 15th century by oil paint.
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Depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, composition, and sometimes allegorical or symbolical significance. Still lifes were painted in ancient Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages they occur in the borders of illuminated manuscripts. The modern still life emerged as an independent genre in the Renaissance. Netherlandish still lifes often depicted skulls, candles, and hourglasses as allegories of mortality, or flowers and fruits to symbolize nature's cycle. Several factors contributed to the rise of still life in the 16th–17th century: an interest in realistic representation, the rise of a wealthy middle class that wanted artworks to decorate its homes, and increased demand for paintings of secular subjects other than portraits in the wake of the Reformation. Dutch and Flemish painters were the masters of still life in the 17th century. From the 18th century until the rise of nonobjective painting after World War II, France was the centre of still-life painting.
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Art consisting of representational, imaginative, or abstract designs produced by application of coloured paints to a two-dimensional, prepared, flat surface. The elements of design (i.e., line, colour, tone, texture) are used in various ways to produce sensations of volume, space, movement, and light. The range of media (e.g., tempera, fresco, oil, watercolour, ink, gouache, encaustic, casein) and the choice of a particular form (e.g., mural, easel, panel, miniature, illuminated manuscript, scroll, screen, fan) combine to realize a unique visual image. Painting as an art form dates back to prehistoric cave paintings. The early cultural traditions of tribes, religions, guilds, royal courts, and states controlled the craft, form, imagery, and subject matter of painting and determined its function (e.g., ritualistic, devotional, decorative). Painters were considered skilled artisans rather than creative artists until eventually, in East Asia and Renaissance Europe, the fine artist emerged with the social status of a scholar and courtier. Fine artists signed their work and decided its design and often its subject and imagery. Over time painters have increasingly gained the freedom to invent their own visual language and to experiment with new forms and unconventional materials and techniques. In the early 20th century painters began to experiment with nonrepresentational art in which formal qualities such as line, colour, and form were explored rather than subject matter. Throughout the century styles vacillated between representational and nonrepresentational painting. In the late 20th century some critics forecast the “death of painting” in the face of new media such as video and intallation art, yet talented new artists repeatedly brought painting back to the centre of artistic production.
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Painting in oil colours, a medium consisting of pigments suspended in drying oils. Oil paint enables both fusion of tones and crisp effects and is unsurpassed for textural variation. The standard consistency of oil paint is a smooth, buttery paste. It is applied with brushes or a thin palette knife, usually onto a stretched linen canvas. Finished oil paintings are often coated with varnish. Oil as a painting medium is recorded as early as the 11th century, though the practice of easel painting with oil colours stems directly from 15th-century techniques of painting with tempera (see tempera painting). In the 16th century oil colour emerged as the basic painting material in Venice; it has been the most widespread medium for easel paintings ever since.
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Small, detailed painting, usually a portrait, executed in watercolour on vellum (parchment), prepared card, copper, or ivory that can be held in the hand or worn as a piece of jewelry. The name derives from the minium, or red lead, used to emphasize initial letters in medieval illuminated manuscripts. Combining the traditions of illumination and the Renaissance medal, it flourished from the early 16th to the mid-19th century. The earliest datable examples were painted in France by Jean Clouet the Younger at the court of Francis I; in England H. Holbein the Younger produced masterpieces in miniature under Henry VIII and inspired a long tradition of the practice, known as “limning.” Nicholas Hilliard served as miniature painter to Elizabeth I for more than 30 years. In the 17th–18th centuries, painting in enamel on metal became popular in France. In Italy Rosalba Carriera introduced the use of ivory (circa 1700) as a luminous surface for transparent pigments, stimulating a great revival of the medium in the late 18th century. By the mid-19th century miniature paintings were regarded as luxury items and rendered obsolete by the new medium of photography.
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Painting of scenes from everyday life, of ordinary people at work or play, depicted in a realistic manner. In the 18th century, the term was used derogatorily to describe painters specializing in one type of picture, such as flowers, animals, or middle-class life. By the mid-19th century it was being used more approvingly, and it is still popularly used to describe works by 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painters such as Jan Steen, Gerard Terborch, Adriaen van Ostade, and Johannes Vermeer, and later masters such as J.-B.-S. Chardin in France, Pietro Longhi in Italy, and George Caleb Bingham in the U.S.
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Method of wall painting in which water-based pigments are applied to wet, freshly laid lime plaster. The dry-powder colours, when mixed with water, penetrate the surface and become a permanent part of the wall. This technique is also known as buon fresco, or “true fresco,” to distinguish it from fresco secco, or “dry fresco” (painting on dry plaster). Early Minoan, Greek, and Roman wall paintings were frescoes. The Italian Renaissance was the greatest period of fresco painting, as seen in the works of Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Correggio, and others. Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's in the Vatican are the most famous of all. By the 18th century, fresco had been largely replaced by oil painting. In the early 20th century it was revived by Diego Rivera and others, often as a medium for political art. Fresco painting is also found in China and India.
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Tapa wall drapery painted with animal clan emblems, from the Teluk Jos Sudarso (Humboldt Bay) area, elipsis
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Painting executed in the medium of acrylic resins—synthetic resins that dry rapidly, are water-soluble, and serve as a vehicle for any pigment. Its effects may range from the transparent brilliance of watercolour to the density of oil paint. Acrylics are less affected by heat and deterioration than oils. They were first used by artists in the 1940s but became popular with Pop artists when they were produced commercially in the 1960s.
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Style of painting that flourished circa 1910–20 in the works of the Italian painters Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà (1881–1966). The movement began with Chirico, whose dreamlike works with sharp contrasts of light and shadow often had a vaguely threatening, mysterious quality. Chirico, his younger brother Alberto Savinio, and Carrà formally established the school and its principles in 1917. Their representational but bizarre and incongruous imagery produces disquieting effects and had a strong influence on Surrealism in the 1920s.
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