Tempera, also known as egg tempera, is a permanent fast drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk or some other size). Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long lasting, and examples from the 1st centuries AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting. A paint which is commonly called tempera (although it is not) consisting of pigment and glue size is commonly used and referred to by some manufacturers in America as poster paint.
Tempera painting has been found on early Egyptians sarcophagi decorations. Many of the Fayum mummy portraits use tempera, sometimes in combination with encaustic.
Related technique has been used also in ancient and early medieval paintings found in several caves and rock-cut temples of India. High quality art with the help of tempera was created in Bagh Caves between late 4th - 10th century AD and in 7th century AD in Ravan Chhaya rock shelter, Orissa.
The art technique was known from the classical world, where it appears to have taken over from encaustic painting and was the main medium used for panel painting and illuminated manuscripts in the Byzantine world and Medieval and Early renaissance Europe. Tempera painting was the primary panel painting medium for nearly every painter in the European Medieval and Early renaissance period up to 1500. For example, every surviving panel painting by Michelangelo is egg tempera.
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