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Old 10-11-07, 04:14 PM
Diane Diane is offline
tempera enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: England
Posts: 8
Default William Blake Egg Tempera paintings

Hi there,

I went to the Tate Britain gallery today in London and while I was there I wanted to see some examples of ET paintings. I found William Blake had used ET for his paintings, but was disappointed with the colours. They looked really dark, almost black and the gold gilding he had used seemed to have flaked off. Does ET change like this over time and become black? One of the pictures was Ghost of a Flea (see link below for reference)

Has anyone else seen this happen?

PS Tate Britain is worth a visit if you are ever in London!
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Old 10-11-07, 06:45 PM
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RobM RobM is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Nottingham, England
Posts: 352

There do seem to be strange anomolies with tempera.......the Blake referred to is dated 1819 and in pretty poor shape yet the earlier ET paintings in the Sainsbury Wing of the National are so immaculate......Birmingham Municiple Art Gallery has Southwells etc and all in good condition.........
Maybe the pigments that Blake used at that time we prone to becoming black.........I have read articles abut certain pigments changing to doubt someone here will have the definitive answer.......
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Old 11-11-07, 11:38 AM
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PhilS PhilS is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Sargentville, Maine
Posts: 222

If an ET painting turns black over time, it isn't the tempera that's at fault. The artist probably used fugitive pigments. Bad water could also be the culprit -for instance, chlorine turns ultramarine black, though I doubt chlorine was invented back in 1819...
I've seen egg temperas in Italy from the 1400s where the colors were almost as bright as brand new.
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Old 28-12-13, 03:55 AM
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jeff jeff is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 214

those are not egg tempera. He used carpenters glue which is probably a form of casein glue. The ingredients could very well blacken the pigments.
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