In order to paint convincing flesh tones, illuminators used a range of pigments and modelling techniques. Numerous recipes for flesh-coloured pigments survive in treatises on illumination, while scientific analyses of the original manuscripts reveal a great variety of painting techniques. The most pragmatic and economical approach was to use the bare parchment (made of animal skin) for flesh tones. Alternatively, facial features defined by reddish brown lines and eyes outlined in black, could be painted over a white base layer. Green was also often used as a base layer for flesh tones, particularly by Italian painters, but pink, brown, grey and blue could also employed for this purpose. The most complex methods of painting flesh involved the layering and blending of numerous pigments. An illuminator’s ability to animate facial features, suggest an individual’s character, and distinguish the healthy complexions of the living from the pallor of the dead, depended on his or her skill in combining and applying pigments.

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