Painting with amber.

Glazing is a painting technique with amazing possibilities for the artist

Glazing. Caravaggio. Saul's conversion. 1601
Caravaggio. Saul’s conversion. 1601

Glaze is a technique in painting, the essence of which is to apply a translucent paint over a dried layer of the main pigment. Glazing is used in the visual arts to obtain complex deep colors. With the help of this original technique, the artist makes the image in the painting more juicy and sophisticated.

Glazing also gives a rich color to a painting of art. When several layers of paints are applied to the canvas, they become iridescent, the author gets the opportunity to make subtle color adjustments to his work.

Glazing. Peter Paul Rubens. Portrait of the Marquise Brigida Spinola-Doria. 1606
Peter Paul Rubens. Portrait of the Marquise Brigida Spinola-Doria. 1606

Features and types of glazing

Glazing is widely in demand not only in painting, but also when carrying out finishing repairs. The overlay of additional translucent layers of pigment is often used when painting walls indoors.

There are two main methods of applying paint: on underpainting or on unpainted areas of the canvas. In the second case, very often the structure of the canvas remains visible in the picture, as when working with watercolors. Therefore, this technique is called watercolor glaze.

Linseed oil or special varnish can be used as a solvent. The artist chooses the size and type of brush in accordance with his personal preferences. In this technique, it is allowed to apply a thin translucent layer not only in one piece, but also in paints obtained as a result of mixing several colors.

Glazing. Diego Velazquez. Triumph of Bacchus or drunkard. 1629
Diego Velazquez. Triumph of Bacchus or drunkard. 1629

Glaze history

The history of glazing dates back to the early Northern Renaissance at the beginning of the 15th century, and most researchers consider the great Flemish portraitist Jan van Eyck to be the inventor of this technique. It was invented as a result of numerous experiments when working with the recently appeared oil paints.

Following van Eyck’s example, other Dutch painters began to use a new technique. The method of applying several translucent layers of paint on varnished underpainting and a light gray primer was widely used.

Glazing. Francisco Goya. Portrait of Sebastian Martinez Perez. 1792
Francisco Goya. Portrait of Sebastian Martinez Perez. 1792

By the end of the 15th century, van Eyck’s invention was adopted by Italian masters of painting, including the greatest representatives of the Renaissance. For a long time, the technique remained unchanged, until at the end of the 16th century Caravaggio invented an improved version. The brilliant Italian was the first to risk using a very dark (almost black) soil to paint his spectacular paintings in the style of “Chiaroscuro”.

In the following centuries, glazing received well-deserved recognition among artists. This technique was in demand in traditional academic painting until the second half of the 19th century. But with the advent of impressionism, the situation began to change rapidly. Outstanding representatives of this movement began to actively apply new painting techniques and massively abandon old traditions when painting pictures.

Georges de Latour. Saint Joseph is a joiner. 1640
Georges de Latour. Saint Joseph is a joiner. 1640

In the twentieth century, adherents of Art Nouveau and avant-garde art continued the work started by the Impressionists, and in our time, glaze is used by only a small part of professional painters. Although in all art schools, this technique is included in the standard curriculum in the new 21st century.

Famous artists who worked in the glazing technique

Among the most famous artists who used glaze in their work, one can count many great masters of painting. And yet, among them, the following stand out:

  1. Jan van Eyck is the inventor of a new painting technique in European fine arts. The great Dutchman, with her help, in the first half of the 15th century, learned to create amazingly realistic images of people in his paintings.
  2. Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo da Vinci) – the greatest genius of the Italian Renaissance, who wrote the famous “La Gioconda”. While working on this masterpiece, da Vinci used the technique of repeatedly covering the canvas with translucent paints.
  3. Titian (Tiziano) – the famous representative of the Venetian school of painting. In many of his later works, the finest structure of the canvas is clearly visible after applying a glaze layer of paint.
  4. Caravaggio is the genius founder of realism in European painting. The unsurpassed master Chiaroscuro was the first to use black soil for glazing and achieved a resounding success.
  5. Rembrandt (Rembrandt) – the greatest master of the Golden Age of Dutch fine arts. Throughout his life, technique helped the artist to embody deep emotional experiences of people in his works.
Painting with amber.
Painting with amber.
Rembrandt. Belshazzar's Feast. 1635
Rembrandt. Belshazzar’s Feast. 1635
Titian. Repentant Mary Magdalene. 1560
Titian. Repentant Mary Magdalene. 1560
William Turner. The last res of the ship Brave. 1838
William Turner. The last res of the ship Brave. 1838