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Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Imprimatura – The Idea

The phrase ‘imprimatura’ is an Italian phrase, which means ‘first paint layer.’ Earlier than dabbing the canvas with the primary drop of paint, a skinny, clear layer of paint often called imprimatura, is utilized on your entire canvas. It normally has a impartial olive or earthen shades, derived largely from uncooked sienna. Imprimatura helps scale back the radiant vibrant gentle on the canvas and permits the ultimate coats to exude their true colours.

The Particulars

This primer paint is combined with the turpentine oil to institute important contrasts between vibrant & darkish, whereas getting ready the canvass for the additional layers of paint. For making use of imprimatura, it is rather necessary to have the ultimate colour scheme chalked out correctly prematurely. The bottom shade is then accordingly chosen for the specified colour and brightness results. When the preliminary layer is completed within the shade of gray as an alternative of olive, it is called Grisaille.

The important thing function of imprimatura is to seal the priming layer in order that it turns into nonabsorbent and radiates its colours, whereas additionally offering a top quality visible accord. It’s used rather a lot in oblique work the place the sketch and the primary portray are allowed to dry for additional work to be finished. At occasions, a major draft of the specified image is created on the canvas and an imprimatura coat is utilized over it. This safely seals the sketch as a foundational layer, whereas the artist prepares to color over it.

The Historical past

Data present that imprimatura has been in use for the reason that Center Ages (Fifth-Sixteenth centuries), in a restricted means although. It got here into common use solely through the Renaissance Interval (14th-Seventeenth centuries), particularly so in Italy. The Italian Renaissance painter Dosso Dossi (1490-1542) found the usage of imprimatura in work. Via the microscopic scanning of electrons and vitality dispersive X-ray spectrometry it was noticed that in these occasions, gypsum, quartz, pyrite, dolomite, and micaceous minerals had been combined collectively to make imprimatura. Using lead white and clay was additionally noticed within the work.


With imprimatura firming the canvas, the work undoubtedly ooze out the ‘oomph’ their creators need them to. The bottom undoubtedly provides a really high-quality edge to the work.

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