Rubens Oil Painting Medium

One medium used by Rubens followed this recipe:

3 part Venice Turpentine
2 part Sun Thickened Walnut oil
1 part Mastic Varnish
with an added siccatif

(Today, one might freely create a similar recipe with Venice Turp., Sun-thickened linseed or Stand Oil, and Damar Varnish)

Due to the yellowing nature of oil and varnish and their effect upon highlights, the lights were given more force by comparison with darks. “The influence of the colour of the vehicle on the quantity and depth of shadow is, indeed, plainly to be traced in the general style of oil painting, as compared with tempera and other methods.”

If a fresh painting turns yellow or brown, placing it several times in the sun or in open air will exhaust the exudations which cause the yellowing of the surface. when pictures are safe from further change, then removal from the sun will preserve them. “…their protection from the sun’s rays, when there is no longer any ‘superfluity of oil’ to dissipate, is essential to their preservation.”

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