Saturday, August 15, 2009

History of Oil Paints

It is believed that oil painting has been used since the Middle Ages or earlier for crafts, decorative painting and furniture finishes. The first easel paintings were probably various vegetable drying oils and pigment painted over tempera.

Jan Van Eyck (before 1395-1441) and his brother Hubert have been credited with mastering oil paints. Modern historians have come to believe, however, that oil painting predates the Van Eycks by at least two or three centuries. The two brothers, along with other Late Gothic Flemish artists, are still credited as being the first to exploit the medium of oil painting to its full potential.

Oil painting first became popular in northern Europe and later spread to Venice, Italy, in the fifteenth century. By the early part of the sixteenth century, oil painting had surpassed tempera as the dominant, acceptable painting medium throughout Europe.

The current view of oil painting's development is that of a gradual evolution of techniques and materials rather than the sudden discovery and overnight employment of the new medium.

The advent of water-soluble linseed and other vegetable drying oils can be counted as nothing short of a revolution in the continual development of oil paint.

In the late twentieth century, artists-and society in general-became more aware of the dangers inherent in many long-used art materials. The idea of using solvents to paint with has become less popular. By the late 1980's most secondary schools and universities in the United States had banned the use of solvents in art departments and thus eliminated the use of oils in the academic setting.

Major manufacturers of fine art paints have begun to develop alternatives to solvent thinnable oil colors. Water-soluble oil colors is the "next generation."

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