Easter would not be Easter without the eggs


 Egg……., eggs, artist and conservation ?


“Which came first, X that can’t come without Y, or Y that can’t come without X?”

 The chicken or the egg causality dilemma is commonly stated as “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”


Michael Maier Atalanta Fugiens Emblem published at Oppenheim in 1617 by the firm of Johann Theodor de Bry “ Take the egg and pierce it with” The meaning of image – basically a soldier ? with a blade in front of a little table with an egg on it – metaphorically hints at the alchemical process to get the Philosophical Stone (i.e. the Knowledge): the soldier (i.e. the alchemist) breaks the egg (Eremite’s vase) with a blade (the philosophical fire) to originate the chick (the Philosophical Stone).

To ancient philosophers, the question about the first chicken or egg also evoked the questions of how life and the universe in general began. About embryology no one had a clue, so I was responsible for the phenomenon of magic. Many of the artists have been intrigued by the eggs idea.


The tradition of decorating Easter eggs is an essential part of Easter celebrations in the many country. From the ancient Egypt eggs, the Islamic shell, aborigine’s eggs collared with dots on the shell. Easter is the greatest Christian religious holiday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christian’s church is seeing in the egg symbol of the rebirth of nature and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. When spring came, they ate them in power, believing that they are strong in the winter.


Eggs and crosses painted Easter eggs in Romania

One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, “Christ is risen!” The Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it.

marri magdalena holding red egg

Mari Magdalena holding red egg.

Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.


Pisanki are general name for all kind of coloured, decorated Easter eggs from Poland. There is many ways do them: wax and food colouring or onion shells, crochet, non-toxic paints, felt tip pens, laces, beads, coloured paper, leaves and stockings or thread just to mention few…

Christians and Muslims in the world today more divided. But can combine them … egg. That is in Egypt during the holidays Sham el Nessim – . Shamo is extension of life, Nessim – wind . And even though it derives from the Christian tradition ( Coptic ) , on the first day of spring all people from Cairo turn out on the streets. They walk, sail boats on the Nile, they sit with their families in the squares and eat dyed eggs. They paint everyone, regardless of religious or position.

As Egyptians celebrate several festivals and holidays, Sham El Nessim remains – distinctive. The feast, which means “breathing the breeze “, is one of the few celebrations that bring both Muslim and Coptic Christians together. On the Monday that follows the Coptic Orthodox Easter, Sham El Nessim – fills the country’s public areas and streets with a festive spirit. Coloured eggs, chocolate bunnies and salted mullets feature of the occasion that dates back to the days of Ancient Egypt.


The shape of an egg resembles a prolate spheroid with one end larger than the other, with cylindrical symmetry along the long axis. An egg is surrounded by a thin, hard shell. Inside, the egg yolk is suspended in the egg white by one or two spiral bands of tissue called the chalazae.

The interpretation of egg symbols in their art historical context, known as iconography can be a challenging field of study. In examining the symbols used by artists, the viewer must aim to understand the context in which these images are used, and how these objects relate to the patron, the scene depicted and the intended location of the work. Certain symbols are more commonly encountered, such as the attribute of a saint, often continuing a tradition of depiction that can be traced back into early Christian art, or beyond into antiquity. Others symbols are more esoteric, placed as markers to denote a specific patron or event. Some of these are more easily identifiable, such as a coat of arms or symbolic animal, whereas others continue to elude scholars.


Probably the best-known “egg” in the whole of European art history is the ovoid object depicted in Piero della Francesca’s Montefeltro Altarpiece in the Pinacoteca Brera, Milano

One such enduring mystery is the egg suspended from the ceiling in Piero della Francesca’s Montefeltro Altarpiece. A cursory analysis may state that the egg is well known symbol of fertility and birth – a suitable motif for a painting featuring the Christ child. Other readings see this object as a large pearl, which along with the shell represented in the architectural features behind may represent the purity of the Virgin. However, a look at the history of the use of eggs suspended in Churches pre-dates the Renaissance, and can also be seen in Islamic images.


Jeff Koons, Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) High-chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating. Estimated $6/8 millions.

Slovenian artist Franc Grom drills a hole in an empty egg shell

Slovenian artist Franc Grom drills a hole in an empty egg shell.

Eggs can be painted, carved, ………but can you imagine this for 18.5 million dollars? So much you have to pay for Carl Fabergé egg from.


The Coronation Faberge egg, estimated $18-$24 million.

Carl Fabergé became famous decorative Easter eggs, which he did order the tsar. Each was unique and arose a year. Story of the creation of the first egg hides a secret. It is known that according to the old custom, the Russians are giving a beautiful Easter eggs at Easter. The eggs were covered with translucent enamel, diamonds and opened to them using a hidden button.


The series of lavish Easter eggs created by Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family.

Carl employed the best craftsmen – engravers, jewelers and jewelry designers and commissioned them to perform valuable items and created in the independent, small craft workshops and Fabergé, which included them your name. They worked for him, among others, Mikhail Perchin , August Holmström , Julius Rappaport and Aleksandr Petrov , a specialist in putting enamel. His technique was unrivaled in Europe and still failed to copy. Jeweller known as the “House of Fabergé ” produced very much, according to historians, even one hundred and fifty thousand items per year! Each was unique, unique. Once a year, organized a big sale because the owner swore – which does not go , it will be simply destroyed. A significant part of the production were the order of the tsar’s court , where it is customary when visiting guests bestowing gifts of Fabergé workshops . Also, foreign journeys were an opportunity to promote the artistry of the Russian jeweler. The company had earned, and the product golden eggs jeweler recognized for prestige, not financial necessity.


A Fabergé Egg from the Kremlin Museum collection in Moscow.

Today Fabergé eggs are considered to be the pinnacle of jewelry art of the nineteenth century, but in times when were created, they were not widely known.


Picasso vs Dali: painting an egg

Some artist use egg symbol in their images, some to uses egg yolk to bind the pigments for painting.


The yolk is a part of an egg that feeds the developing embryo in animals. Also known as deutoplasm, this food material is accumulated during oogenesis, together with RNA molecules and other substances.

The word tempera comes from the Latin temperare, meaning to “mix” or to “regulate.” The classic recipe, as recorded by Cennino Cennini in Il libro dell’arte in the late 14th century, calls for emulsifying egg yolk with water, and is considered by purists to be true tempera. However, in the first half of the 20th century, many new water-based paints were developed to meet a demand from the growing advertising industry for fast-drying, opaque, matte paints. Recipes changed in response to availability and cost of raw materials—yet paint manufacturers classified most as tempera. While a shared characteristic of these paints was the ability to be thinned with water, the binding media may have included such combinations as gum and glue; starch and glue; glue and egg; egg and oil; egg, resin, and oil; and casein and glue. I really like egg tempera because of its luminosity and how well it takes layers of thin glazes.


Materials used to make egg tempera paint.

Painting with egg tempera is a slow and very painstaking process. It requires meticulous attention not only to the detail of the subject matter but also to how the medium should be applied. An advantage of this technique is that it allows the artist to create paintings of incredible detail and accuracy. The one great advantage egg tempera paintings have is that once they’re set, egg tempera paintings don’t change. Oil paints darken yellow and become transparent with age.


Birth of Venus (ca. 1483), painted in tempera on canvas (typical for large-scale non-religious and pagan subjects) for a Medici bedroom, illustrates characteristics of this Neoplatonic philosophy.Botticelli was known for his sinuous line and lyrical, contoured forms detail 2: Botticelli was known for his sinuous line and lyrical, contoured forms (rollover to enlarge) The picture tells the pagan myth of Venus, born from the foam of the waves and transported to the island of Cythera on a shell where, surrounded by roses, she is blown ashore by the west winds, Zephyr and Chloris. She is welcomed with a cloak by a Greek nymph of the Spring, who wears a gown decorated with daisies and other spring flowers representing birth.

Egg tempera paintings don’t fade or change colour; they’re permanent. Examples from the first few centuries AD still exist and how to not love eggs.


Detail of a painting of Birth of Venus (ca. 1483), painted in tempera on canvas.

Throughout the centuries, artists have had at their disposal only available paint media were waxes, plant gums, egg, milk, animal hides, vegetable oils, and plant resins. Pigments came from mineral deposits or were extracted from plants, insects, and animals. Today, however, artists are not limited to these traditional materials but may also choose from a variety of commercial paint media. Examination and analysis of artists’ paints materials helps guide decisions about care and conservation treatment. There are now a number of scientific analytical techniques to aid in identifying artists’ materials and techniques—and although most were refined and developed to study works of art made with more traditional materials, they can also be applied to 20th-century artworks and their materials. From minute samples of paint, pigments are identified with polarized-light microscopy (PLM), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Organic binding media may be identified with gas chromatography (GC), liquid chromatography (LC), and mass spectrometry (MS). Another tool Fourier-transform infrared microspectrometry (FTIR), is useful for identifying pigments and media. Many of conservators had challenge with paintings done by Willem de Kooning. He had experimented with paint formulations; he was regularly mixed house paint, safflower cooking oil, water, egg, and even mayonnaise to achieve desired visual and textural effects. What have a negative effect on the long-term stability of his paintings? The paintings executed during the 1960s and 1970s, in particular, are problematic for conservators, with passages that remain soft and sticky. Such paint surfaces are easily deformed when touched, and they readily pick up surface dust.


De Kooning in his studio in Springs, Long Island, 1981

In the late 1940s, other artist Jacob Lawrence made his own egg tempera using a recipe—which he recalls obtaining from a friend—that called for equal parts egg yolk and water, plus a few drops of formaldehyde as a preservative.

Jacob Lawrence Checker Players

Jacob Lawrence Checker Players

Analysis of the binding medium on Lawrence’s Checker Players (1947) confirms it to be composed of pure egg. In contrast, analysis of the medium in Vaudeville (1951), another egg tempera painting, indicates that it is a commercially prepared medium incorporating oils and plasticizers into the paint. One problem with some egg temperas is the formation of efflorescence on the artwork’s surface, an aging phenomenon. Generally associated with dark hues, a white crystalline substance was noted on the surface of many works examined for this study. A sample of this white crystalline exudate taken from Magic Man (1958) was identified as a free fatty acid deposit.

Modern and contemporary “eggs” paintings present a variety of new challenges to conservators.


What’s the best conservation treatment for modern and Contemporary Sculpture ????

According to an old joke, the best way to keep an egg fresh is to keep it in the chicken.” however that left us with, at best, an uneasy feeling. “What happened, anyway?” many conservators asked each other. “Did the idea work? WHAT HAPPENED, ANYWAY?”

The Germans say whenever anything is especially difficult to do  “It’s like the egg dance”


Pieter_Aertsen,TheEgg Dance(1552)

The egg dance was in fact performed on an Easter Monday, in the late 15th century, at the wedding of Margaret of Austria and Philip the Handsome, Duke of Savoy. It was the year 1498. A hundred eggs were laid out and two young couples, who had been told that they might marry if they could finish without breaking an egg, performed the dance together. This had to be done three times in succession. Perhaps there is a link between this ceremony and the eggs which are such an important feature at traditional wedding celebrations in many parts of the world.

The egg dance seems to have been an ancient custom, and is referred to in an Elizabethan comedy by William Wagner, called “The Longer Thou Livest the More Fool Thou Art”:

 “Upon my foote pretely I can hoppe

and Daunce it trimely about an egge.”

 Laborde’s – Views of Spain, published in 1809, describes such a dance among the Valencians: “In the first they place on the ground a great number of eggs, at small intervals from each other; as they dance round the eggs in these intervals it seems as if they must crush them every moment, but notwithstanding the celerity and variety of the steps they display, they never touch one of them”.

Eighteenth-century memories of the egg dance also come from Denmark. Aeggedans was performed at carnival time before Lent. Egg dance iIf the egg dance was performed at Sadlers Wells, it was also arranged as training for the Royal Corps de Ballet in Copenhagen. First a man, then a woman, and finally a couple, had to dance between a fixed numbers of eggs laid out on the floor, without breaking them – this version was from Seeland.


The Egg Dance, by Jan Steen c. 1674.

The performance of the reconstructed Egg Dance, included in a past Albert Hall Folk Festival, was largely thanks to the efforts of the Egg Marketing Board, who had done their best to discover if such a dance actually existed.

Following the eggs tradition





About conservationwithella

Hello, I'm Ella, Art on Paper Conservator & Preservation Manager at Glasgow University Archives and Special Collections. This blog is a walk through my daily life, work, arts & crafts history, my discovery that everything in my life is enough to be a continuous source of reflection. I started blogging to entertain myself but I hope you enjoy it too. I'm sure you agree, that Life without art is nothing. :)

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