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Mark Jones 08-04-10 09:44 PM

Hello and question about tempera

My name's Mark Jones. Firstly I should say I'm currently undertaking an MA in Art History. For my dissertation I am studying the work Coming from Evening Church by Samuel Palmer, painted in 1830. You can view it via this link at the Tate Gallery.
One of your existing members has kindly replied to an email by suggesting I get in touch with this forum about this work. The description of this work from the Tate is that it is a tempera painting and that Palmer used animal glue, gum Arabic and cherry gum, and sugar to create it.
I was just wondering if anyone had any knowledge of this painting or the kind of approach an early nineteenth century British artist would have taken to create this work in tempera.Is it even correct to say it is tempera?
Thanks for any responses.

Alessandra Kelley 09-04-10 12:36 PM

Actually this is a method called gum distemper, or just distemper. It's paint made with a gum or glue, rather than egg yolk, which is the medium for classic tempera painting.

I've seen a few distemper works -- there's an Italian Renaissance processional banner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and I think the Art Institute of Chicago might have one or two -- but they tend not to survive.

I do know that in the early nineteenth century, in Germany especially but also in Britain, there was a conscious effort to emulate medieval art, I guess part of the Gothic revival. This seems to be related to that.

Do you know if the painting is mounted on board or on canvas? It looks in pretty good shape, so I'm guessing board, but you never know.

Mark Jones 11-04-10 02:12 PM

Thanks for your response Alessandra, a recent catalogue entry describes it as 'mixed media on gesso on paper laid down on panel'. Palmer and his circle - known as the Ancients - were very much interested in emulating medieval art so that would tie in with your comment.

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