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Originally any paint in which pigment is mixed (tempered) with glue or gum and thinned with water. The most common form of the medium is egg tempera, which was the most important painting technique in Europe until the end of the fifteenth century. Pigment is bound together with egg yolk, giving a smooth, fast-drying paint suitable for fine work. Built up with quick, repeated brushstrokes in translucent layers, an opaque surface covered in fine lines with a soft sheen is produced. Recent years have seen a revival of tempera techniques.

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J.G. Ballard
by Brigid Marlin
NPG 6557

Elvis Costello
by Adam Birtwistle
NPG 6460

Amartya Kumar Sen
by Antony Williams
NPG 6640

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