MoMA

ART TERMS

8,984 Artists and 54,211 Works Online

Choose your search filter(s) from the categories on the right, and then click Search.

You may select multiple filters.

Browse Artist Index »

Browse Art Terms Index »

White Gray Black

Varnish

About this term

Source: Oxford University Press

Coating material consisting of resin dissolved in a liquid, which dries to form a transparent film. Drying may result from the evaporation of a Solvent vehicle to leave a glassy residue of resin, or from a combination of solvent evaporation and chemical reaction between resin molecules to form larger molecular units (polymerization). Traditionally, varnish films have a high gloss, but, by varying the varnish constituents and the method of application, it is possible to vary the degree of gloss as well as the hardness, toughness and flexibility of the film. Varnishes may be colourless or tinted by the addition of dyes or pigments. The word ‘varnish’ is derived from the medieval (c. 8th century) Latin veronix or vernix, itself related to the Greek berenice, then apparently used for amber. By extension, vernix came to be used for sandarac resin, sometimes confused with amber and a common ingredient in medieval varnish recipes. By the 15th or 16th centuries vernix also denoted juniper resin. The word ‘varnish’ only acquired its modern meaning around the late 16th century; before this time the liquid coating material was known by such names as the Italian vernice liquida.

Jo Kirby
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

top

    Share by E-mail
    Share by Text Message