Leaves from the Hours of Albrecht of Brandenburg

Painting the flesh

Artists' Techniques

Bening painted flesh tones with complex mixtures, intentionally varied to suit the character and specific situation of the individuals depicted. In line with 16th-century practices, he used flesh tones to suggest the protagonists’ temperament – choleric in the case of the bad thief (MS 294a), melancholic in the case of the Damned (MS 294d). Bening also varied his treatment of flesh tones to distinguish between the living and the dead. The two Crucifixion scenes (MSS 294a, 3-1996) provide a study in ‘life colour.’