The word “tempera” comes from “stemperare” that in Italian means dissolve the pigments of colour with water.
It was the first technique used by man to express himself already in prehistoric times.
The pigments are powders that are extracted from minerals, plants or animals of different colours.
The tempera technique reached its peak development in Italy between 13th and 15th century, so to say, it was the technique of Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo and many other very famous.artists.
In the ”Book of Art” of the painter Cennino Cennini (1370-1440) we find all the secrets of painting. He describes how the artists of the time prepared the wood they used to paint, how they painted and also how they prepared tempera colours (Chapter LXXII).
The most popular method was to mix the egg yolk with pigment of colours. The result is good for painting on any surface: wall, wood or iron
It is therefore a long, delicate and very difficult preparation. In fact, the colour should be liquid but not too much, but it should not be too thick (pure) either because otherwise difficult to apply and subject to cracking.
Knowing this, you can now look with new eyes at an Early Renaissance painting so to discover the regularity of the strokes and especially appreciate the capacity, technique and the hard work that lies behind.