The Italian renaissance took place in the early 15th Century. During this period mediums such as fresco and tempera were common with the later introduction of oil. Fresco was used by covering a wall in fresh plaster and painting over it while still wet, this medium was hard to blend and had to be done using a hatching method. This was a medium that had been used in the past and was still quite popular. However it was very hard to correct mistakes and the colours were very mute. Tempera was quite similar to fresco in the way of its flexibility. These were done on wooden panels and colour pigments were mixed with egg. The colours in tempera stayed very vibrant as the pigments were suspended in the egg which meant that they hardly fade. This also had to be hatched in order the blend the colours. Also during the Italian renaissance period oil became a very new and popular medium. This was influenced by Antonello De Messina who brought his work from Sicily to venice. His work was highly influence from the northern renaissance artists. Oil was a medium that was very flexible and it was once again done on wooden panels. The pigments was mixed with oil, this gave it a reflective quality. Artists could easily fix their mistakes and Leonardo Da Vinci developed a blending technique called stfmato which we see in his later paintings that gave a smoky and very natural blend between the colours.
The first one is a fresco called Saint Jerome in his study which was painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio. This fresco shows Jerome (A doctor of the church) who is shown leaning on his arm and writing with the other. It was commissioned by the Vespucci family along with another artwork in order to decorate the area next to the choir. Fresco was a medium that was bought forward from ancient times. Fresco was done by placing reed mats onto a wall. The wall was then rendered with plaster and the outline was then done with charcoal and a sketch brush. A 2nd layer of wet plaster would then be applied to the area they planned on working on that day. Because fresco cannot be blended as easy as oil can the facial expression of Jerome is very harsh. This is because the artist would have to under draw the flesh areas in a brown colour with a mixture of yellows, whites and blacks. The artist would then paint over green earth to help give the face depth. However because fresco cannot be blended the depth that they could achieve was very limited. This is why his expression his seen as harsh. Unlike oil it was very hard to create tonal modelling. However we see examples of this in the drapery in this fresco as the artist would have used a hatching technique which gives the effect of shadowing and 3 dimensions. Blending wasn’t achievable until oil was introduced. However if we were to compare this to one of Masaccio’s earlier works, The expulsion of Adam and Eve, we can see how this blending technique and the use of tonal modelling has been improved as we see a lack of depth and expression in Masaccio’s work.
The tempera painting is a portrait of a man with a medal of Cosimo the elder painted by Sandro Botticelli. This shows us an unidentified man holding a medal which features the face of cosimo the elder. The commissioner for this painting is unknown as well as what it was commissioned for. Tempera paintings were used as far back as the Egyptians decorations and were very popular up until the 15th century when the medium of oil superseded it. Tempera paintings were done on a similar panel to oil paintings. The wood would be sanded and many layers of gesso were applied and smoothed out. A charcoal outline was then drawn on and areas to be gilded were cover with bole. Tempera paints are very similar to fresco in regards to how difficult it is to be blended. In this painting we can see how this man’s facial features are quite striking. This was achieved by the blending technique of hatching. Colours such as green and white were used for