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.  

Lightbox: 209
Detail of David’s face under magnification (20x).
Lightbox: 210
Detail of David’s face under magnification (20x).

The images are faithful illustrations of the adjacent text. They show David imploring God to protect him from evil men (above, Psalm 42) and thanking God for supporting his ancestors (below, Psalm 43). Both images were painted by the Gaibana Master’s Associate.