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Oil paint

A mixture of pigment in the form of a very fine colored powder with, as binder, a vegetable drying oil, mostly linseed oil. Oil paint has been an important medium in painting since the 15th century. It was used for the first time by the Flemish Primitives.

Previously, oil paint was also used as house paint or in the industry, but this has declined sharply since the middle of the 20th century, mainly due to more robust and cheaper synthetic paints. Oil paint is a very versatile type of paint, with which both opaque and transparent can be worked. The paint can be applied in thin smooth layers, but strong effects can also be achieved if the paint is processed with volume, so that the paint strokes remain visible.

The traditional story is that Jan van Eijck (about 1390-1441) invented oil paint. In reality, he was only the first to build a reputation with it, by the brilliance of his colors, a result of a layered technique, combined with an admixture of resin varnish in the upper layers. Old Italian sources report that one Giovanni de Bruggia (Jan van Brugge) is the inventor of oil paint, which might be the same as Jan van Eyck. Van Eyck, however, had a predecessor in Robert Campin (1375-1444), the Master of Flémalle.

It is likely that oil paint on linseed oil was developed in the late Middle Ages for decorative purposes, for the painting of coats of arms, for example. Oil paint is in fact much stronger than the previously used tempera paint, which consists of egg with pigment. Paint and varnish on walnut oil basis is mentioned earlier in Byzantine sources and from the early Middle Ages there are several applications known from the Middle East and Asia.

From the Netherlands the line oil technique in painting art spread rapidly over Europe during the 15th century; in the early 16th century, the temperature technique was completely pushed to the background, except for manuscripts and icons. Until the 17th century was usually painted on a wooden panel; after that the tensioned canvas was popular on a frame. Painters or their students rubbed the paint themselves, with stone runners on plates. However, they bought the pigments from special traders. Resins were often added to the paint, which made them more suitable for a glazing layered technique with which the color intensity could be increased. In the early 19th century industrial production started, first from paint in pig bladders, then in spraying and finally, from 1841, in tubes, invented by George Goffe Rand. In combination with new highly saturated pigments, this led to a transition to alla prima-techniques.

All the while oil painting was also very popular with painters; however, around 1950 they almost completely switched to alkyd paint, which dries faster and is less sensitive to moisture.

(source: Wikipedia)

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