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Tempera is a painting technique in which colour pigments in powder form are mixed in a binder, normally with the yolk of an egg, thinned with water and applied to a gesso - a white, smooth, fully absorbent preparation made of burnt gypsum (chalk or Plaster of Paris) and hide glue. The mixture is fast drying and permanent.

Its name stems from the Latin word temperare meaning ‘blending or mixing’. It was a primary method of painting and was used by every artist during the Renaissance - Duccio, Giotto, Fra Angelico and the ‘Egg Tempera’ master Botticelli. Examples of these early works suggest the requisite of artists to possess more than just the ability and desire to create. Tempera was superseded by the invention of oil painting.

Indian artist Jamini Roy, known to draw inspiration from Folk arts of Bengal used Tempera on cloth, paper and cardboard as a medium in some of his most famous works like Gopini, Santhal Dance and Bengali Woman.


Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1486, Tempera on Canvas, 67.71x109.44 in, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.