The Breslau Psalter

Painting the flesh

Artists' Techniques

The materials and techniques used by each of the artists to paint flesh tones are amongst their most characteristic traits. Hands A, B, C and D all painted a blue base layer for flesh tones with woad, which is one of the most distinctive features of the decoration. The subsequent pink surfaces, red outlines and white highlights were applied as distinct layers. This is especially visible in the figures painted by Hand C, whose facial features are angular and exaggerated.

The Gaibana Master used earth pigments in flesh tones, which have a greenish rather than blue undertone. His Associate employed large amounts of azurite instead. The careful blending of paint layers by both artists results in much smoother modelling of faces compared to that found in faces painted by the other illuminators.  

This initial was painted by one of the artists who were responsible for the minor decoration throughout the volume. The palette is similar to that of Hands E, F, and G, but the initial includes a facial type and the sophisticated handling of green characteristic of Hand A. Given Hand A’s prominence in the large images throughout the volume, it is possible that he trained and collaborated with an assistant in this initial.