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  • Casein and casein/oil tempera techniques around 1900ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-06-23 06:28:50 ... Most recent comment 2019-06-23 23:01:14


    I am currently examinating a wall painting form 1901, that was very probably painted using  casein as a binder. Apparently this medium became popular for the use to paint on the wall with artists who usually painted on canvas. Why did it become popular again and what does its popularity has to do with the industrial revolution? Are there manuals and recipes from arts schools from the end of the 19th century known, that are describing this technique for monumental wall painting in Europe and the US?

    Thank you very much, your help is appreciated!

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Casein has been used in mural paints since ancient times, but as a manufactured adhesive and paint binder, it was first available in Europe, then in the 1st half of the 20th c. in America it was more widely available when Borden introduced Casco Powder. In the first two decades of the 20th c. casein paints were used for naval applications, owing to resistance to water and mold. In the 1930s, Casco Powder was heavily marketed as an all-purpose adhesive, sizing and binder, with recipe books filled with instructions for using casein to make wall paint, canvas primer, laminate adhesive, and as many other project ideas as marketing could conceive before the advent of water-borne synthetic  glues and polymer dispersion paints.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-06-23 11:58:52
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​There are some detailed instructions for using casein in painting in this early 20th c book:

    Also here:

    I also found one reference to a crude casein/hide glue combined wall adhesive, with skim milk added to animal glue.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-06-23 12:12:24
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Thanks so much Matthew.

    Brian Baade
    2019-06-23 15:40:15
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    You might want to check out some of the abstracts listed on the Getty's fabulous resource: did a quick search myself using the phrase "casein wall" and it pulled up a number of articles detailing case studies regarding the examination of German, Austrian, and even Czech wall paintings from this period. Note that this is a time when MANY artists are experimenting with all sorts of mediums....on paper, canvas, solid supports, and of course walls. I recommend also looking into the new publication relating to the Tempera Conference (Tempera Painting: 1800-1950) hosted in Munich in 2018:

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2019-06-23 23:01:14

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