Project Description

Encaustic and the science behind it became already very trendy in the late 18th century.

The rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in in the second quarter of the 18th century (destroyed by the eruption of the Vesubio in year 79 a. D.) respectively awoke the curiosity of those first international aristocrats, classical travelers and curiosity seekers from the north. Goethe, Mozart and Stendhal were among those first famous visitors.

The colors of the wall painting at the pompeian “Villa of the mysteries”  surely still ignites  our imagination

encaustic history

Sala di Grande Dipinto, Detail Scene VIII in the Villa de Misteri (Pompeii). Wikimedia commons // Wolfgang Rieger

The French Count of Caylus or the Spanish jesuit Vivente Requeno published in the late 18th century comprehensive studies about the encaustic technique, proposing different methods on how the wax could be applied (if as a cold emulsion or as melted wax).

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Sala di Grande Dipinto, Detail Scene IV in the Villa de Misteri (Pompeii) Wikimedia commons // Wolfgang Rieger

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The uncertainty about the composition of encaustic and the pigments used in Pompeii is still subject to numerous studies and controversies. The Spanish Pedro Cuní is leading interesting experiments about the subject.

If you are curious, you can have a look at the book published in English in 1760  “Encaustic, or, Count Caylus’s method of painting in the manner of the ancients” by J.H. Müntz.

The University of Heidelberg offers for download the book from the Spaniard Vicente Requeno dated 1787 “Saggi sul ristabilimento dell’antica arte de’greci e romani pittori (Band 2)” in italian.