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Egg tempera painting

Detail of draped red fabric from the painting, with white highlights and intense dark colour in the shadows

Egg tempera paint dries very quickly and so a painting style evolved to accommodate this. Layers are built up using short, overlapping brushstrokes to create transitions from dark to light.

White is added to the mixture until the freely painted highlights are almost pure white while the shadows are an almost pure single colour.

This use of very simple mixtures of pigments gives the painting its intense colouring which has not altered or faded significantly in over 500 years.

Detail of a blue garment from the painting, showing white highlights and darker shadows