SpectraFix Casein Pastel Fixative

A Brief History of Casein in the Arts



Casein is simply dried milk protein and has been used for over 9000 years as a binder for pigments. Cave paintings in Asia and ancient Egytpian tomb paintings are the greatest testament to its archivability, with colors still firmly adhering to their supports with brilliant clarity of hue after literally thousands of years! No other painting medium has such an ancient and demonstrable history of stability and permanence.

Casein has been widely used by artists since that time including medieval illuminated manuscripts, Gustav Klimt’s ‘Beethoven Frieze’, Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’, Ben Shahn, Thomas Hart Benton and many more. Since the introduction of acrylics, casein has fallen by the wayside, but it was the original foundation for the development of acrylics. It was an early type of plastic (when combined with formaldehyde) and was used for decades to make buttons, handles, trays and all manner of colorful items.



There is also great evidence that Degas used different formulations of casein as a medium and as a fixative, including liquid solutions into which he would dip his pastel stick. He was a close friend of the artist Luigi Chialiva who patented a pastel fixative using casein and alcohol back in the 1890s, and one can hardly doubt that Degas would have been instrumental in its development and popularization.





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Powdered Casein

Powdered Casein
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Egyptian Tomb Painting in Casein circa 1800 B.C.

Casein Painting in Egyptian Tomb circa 1800 B.C.




"Dancers" by Edgar Degas

'Dancers'
Pastel Painting by Edgar Degas




"At the Theater" by Mary Cassat

"At the Theater" by Mary Cassat
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Another Thoughtful Creation of