Egg Tempera Painting with Gilding

Pastiche of the Altar of St. Barbara from 1447, painted basing on the original at the National Museum in Warsaw. Technique: egg tempera on panel, relief and flakes of 24k gold. Panel size: 84 x 35 cm.

Painting technique

The panel was covered with fourteen layers of gypsum primer made strictly in accordance with medieval technology. The primer after drying has been carefully polished. Then, in the already dry primer an ornament has been carved on its top by means of steel needle and needle files. The ornament after its polishing was covered with a specialized background (red colored – Armenian bole) being the base for the final application of gold flakes. This background ensures proper adhesion of the applied layer of gold. The technique of gold-laying, gilding strictly corresponds to the recipes of fifteenth-century gilding technology. After application of gold flakes on the primer when these flakes slightly dried up, they were polished with a boar tusk.

The remaining parts of the work (smooth, not carved surface of the painting) were saved for the painting. The image was painted in egg tempera technique, meaning that the color pigments were mixed with egg yolk from natural country eggs (yolk from farm hen eggs is not suitable.) This painting technology is the most durable of all-natural painting techniques known to man. An oil painting cannot possibly compete with such an image.

When the painting process is finished I cover the surface with a protective varnish made on the basis of shellac (seed lac) – also according to the formula of a medieval painting technology.

Visually, the work is not a copy of the original. It is a pastiche. Since I have enriched the original colors of the work, giving it a more expressive colouration. Because the original is quite dim in color and in some parts has the quite dull gradation of colorful shades. I also altered the face of the angel, giving him a more expressive and anatomically correct features.