Love’s Messenger, Marie Spartali Stillman, watercolor, tempera and gold paint on paper, 32 x 26 inches (116 x 100 cm).
I’ve stood in front of this beautiful painting in the Delaware Art Museum more times than I can count, marveling not only at the beautiful composition and subtle color, but at the remarkable painting technique and the delicately textural surface.
It appears to be a stipple technique often used by late 19th century British watercolorists, to wonderful effect.
For a long time, I remember the medium listed as simply “watercolor”, and I assumed the obviously opaque passages, such as the white highlights on the bird’s head and wings, were gouache. The museum’s webpage for the painting now lists the materials as watercolor and tempera. I’m still unsure what that means, exactly, as the term “tempera” is often applied to paints other than egg tempera.
For more, see my previous posts on Marie Spartali Stillman.