Detail of the Portrait of Dora Carrington

Method and Material: Tempera Painting in Focus

Feb. 26, 2022Mar. 13, 2023
Huntington Art Gallery, Focus Room

This focused exhibition explores tempera's fascinating history through a number of key objects from The Huntington art collections, as well as two important loans from the Resnick collection. A pair of portraits by 15th-century master Domenico Ghirlandaio serves as a springboard to explore the fascination with tempera that manifested in Britain and America centuries later in the work of artists such as Joseph Southall (1861-1944), Mark Gertler (1891-1939), and George Tooker (1920-2011).

Widely used in Italy from the 13th through 15th centuries, tempera fell into disuse with the introduction of oil paints from Northern Europe and its formula and technique were virtually lost. While British artists as early as William Blake (1757-1827) sought to recreate the pure, bright colors of Italian tempera painting, it was not until the 1844 translation of Cennino Cennini's treatise Il Libro dell’Arte (ca. 1400) into English that a full-blown revival of the medium took shape.

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