Skip to Main Content
Sign In
Toggle Navigation

Open the Navigation Management window, which can be used to view the full current branch of the menu tree, and edit it.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

MITRA Forum Question Details

Image Picker for Section 0


  • imprimaturaApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-04-08 15:36:08 ... Most recent comment 2019-04-08 18:24:48

    ​I am writing about imprimatura and have 2 questions.

    Can an imprimatura tone a ground ANDan underdrawing or should it read ground OR underdrawing?

    I know that an imprimatura can be a translucent glaze of paint, can it also be a colored size or colored varnish?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    The term imprimatura was originally used to describe a pigmented layer of paint containing a drying oil that was applied over a true gesso or chalk-glue ground (usually over the ground and underdrawing). It served up to three purposes. 1st and foremost, it cut the absorbency of the ground to facilitate the application of oil paint. 2nd It could lock in or partially obscure the underdrawing. 3rd It could provide an overall color to the painting, which could be exploited by the artist (there are many examples of off-white or pale gray imprimatua). There are certainly instances of clear oil or other materials used to cut absorbency or to provide color and the use of the term appears to have morphed a bit.

    Today most people appear to use the term to describe a thin transparent wash of oil color to provide a mid-valued surface (this is very often a dull ochre, a rich burnt sienna, or raw umber like color) irrespective of any underdrawing or the need to reduce absorbency. I prefer the earlier definition of the term but like the in the case of the misuse of the word “gesso,” there is only so much that I can do ;)

    Brian Baade
    2019-04-08 18:24:48

Page Settings and MetaData:
(Not Shown on the Page)
Page Settings
MetaData for Search Engine Optimization
MITRA Forum Question Details
This page cannot be accessed until you accept the Terms of Use, which can be found here.
Please note that this Terms of Use system uses cookies. If you have cookies disabled you will not be able to accept the agreement. If you delete our cookies you will need to re-accept the Terms of Use.
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489