Archive for April 23rd, 2008

The first oil paintings were made in Asia, not Europe

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Afghanistan, to be precise, and painted on walls behind the giant 6th c. Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban, to be even more precise.

Although caves decorated with precious murals from 5th to 9th century A.D. also suffered from Taliban attacks on this World Heritage Site, they have since become the focus of a major discovery, revealing Buddhist oil paintings that predate those in Renaissance Europe by hundreds of years.

Scientists have proved, thanks to experiments performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, that the paints used were based of oil, hundreds of years before the technique was “invented” in Europe, when artists found they could use pigments bound with a medium of drying oil, such as linseed oil.

In many European history and art books, oil painting is said to have started in the 15th century in Europe. But the team that used the ESRF, an intense source of X rays, found the Bamiyan paintings date back to the mid-7th century AD

The paintings were made with all kinds of pigments, binders, resins, proteins, gums, varnish all layered on top of each other like a club sandwich of kickass.

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