Color recipes in byzantine iconography - another "How to" on byzantine icons

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 What about the mineral pigments? Despite the variety of colors available on the market, there are only  ten mineral powders that tradition holds necessary for the creation of a byzantine icon.

So depending the school, or the master, the colors used (with some variations from time to time) are basically the following (in random order):

1.Titaneum white/ Blanc de titane
2. Black/ Noir d' ivoire
3. Yellow ocher/ Ocre jaune
4. Cinnabar Red/ Vermillion claire
5. Rouge Anglais (a sort of brownish red)
6. Cadmium Red (a sort of Carmin)
7. Cadmium Yellow
8 Turquise Blue (or Blue Cobalt)
9. Green
10 Ombre vert/ Green Umbre

For example, -if numbers are easier for you to remember- a ccombination of 2,3 and 5 (while other schools use 3,5,1 and 10 or 9) produces what we call "proplasmos of the face" or simply the brown flesh, the color of the earthly soil out of which Adam was made.

Egg tempera: One egg yolk and a spoonful of vinegar

The proportions of the colors are important as well as proportions in the mixture of powders with egg and vinegar; How thick or thin we need the paint to be. White, ochre and vermillion combined, very thinly -that is with al lot of egg and vinegar-  are used for the almost transparent in some spots -- highlights of the skin- but that is a subject of another post!!!


For more posts on byzantine art visit my original blog:


I have been looking for some

I have been looking for some basic color examples for some time...I am so thankful for your post. I plane to follow your blog as well.

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