Findings of a “spirit world”, while oil paints

Findings
on the tempera painting of the individual artists

Artists motivation

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In the
course of the 1890s, tempera painting in Munich gradually developed from a
marginal phenomenon to a trend that more and more artists joined.

Arnold
Böcklin was certainly an important initiator of the trend of tempera painting
through his innovative use of tempera and his emphatically individual painting
technique, which can be observed in Munich painting in the last quarter of the
19th century. However, unlike Ernst Berger and Max Doerner, he was certainly
not the one who rediscovered painting with aqueous binder systems (Doerner 1984, Berger, E.,Bocklin, A.,
1906, Beltinger, Nadolny 2016).

Böcklin’s
painting technique developed in the copies and portraits probably had an effect
on the surrounding, historical artist circle such as the symbolist and Art
Nouveau artist Franz von Stuck and the historicist painter Franz von Lenbach. However,
his idea of the technique of painting of the Old Masters, which he had
developed in the context of his copies, may have had an effect on the
contemporary conceptions of the painting technique of the Old Masters: A striking
similarity exists, for example, between Lenbach’s painting technique of the
copies in the 1860s and the ideas of the painting technique of the Old Masters
formulated by Max Doerner and Ernst Berger towards the end of the 19th and at
the beginning of the 20th century: Both Doerner and Berger advocated a layered
painting in which tempera and oil paint layers alternated, so that a
multi-layered image structure could be the result (Kinseher 2012).

Berger has emphasized the practical reasons for using tempera
paints. Artists counted on tempera to have better colour stability over oil
paints, streamline the work process with shorter drying times and luminous colours
(Berger, E.,Bocklin, A.,
1906 cited in, Kinseher 2012). In addition to these well-known reasons,
artistic reasons were likely to vary depending on artists’ aims: For example, tempera
paints appeared to Böcklin and Franz von Stuck particularly suitable for the
representation of a “spirit world”, while oil paints in their
typical, contemporary application in the sense of naturalistic modelling
remained a means of depicting reality (Kinseher
2012, Beltinger 2016, Beltinger, Nadolny 2016). Franz von Lenbach used
tempera paints with the aim of getting as close as possible to the image
effects he admired and the technique of painting of the Old Masters, which he
copied between 1863 and 1868 in Rome and Florence. He also sought with their
help a rational execution of the copies and later his portraits, the relatively
short drying times of the tempera colours in the background were of great
advantage. Igor Grabar, Ernst Friedlein and Wassily Kandinsky’s use of tempera
paints promised vivid colour effects and colour-fast paint in comparison to oil
painting. It could be shown that this also remained important to Kandinsky in
the transition to abstract painting: because colours are an important means of
expression for them, durable colours were of central importance for the
preservation of the image effect and thus of the image content. Another
motivation for the use of tempera paints was probably also the enrichment of them
painting-technical means of expression (Beltinger 2016, Kinseher 2012, Reinkowski-Häfner 2016a, Friedlein
1906).

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