CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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Encaustic versus oil painting in the Neoclassical aesthetic

Session 20 Professional Education and Aesthetic Education


the encyclopedic rationalization of the concept of artistic technique stimulated the re-establishing of Ancient techniques practiced by the Greeks and Romans, such as Encaustic.

The first authors that defended the virtues of encaustic painting were the Count of Caylus and the French encyclopedistsBechelier and Diderot, who in the 50s conjectured about what the original procedure was of the ancients and experimented with this. They thought that encaustic painting could prevent the negative aging results of oil painting and avoid darkening of the paint layer, something unpleasant in the eyes of the neoclassicists.

A second generation of people interested in encáustic were the Italian Astori, Lorgna and Tommaselli and the Spaniards Vicente Requeno and Pedro J. García de la Huerta. Requeno and Huerta were opponents of the idea of the “Painter Time” which was defended by other painters, such as Francisco de Goya, for whom the patina produced by the evolution of the materials was an added wealth to the painting.

In this paper I will discuss, through the texts of these two authors, the scope of their theories on the practice of the Spanish painters of the late eighteenth century.


From 1986 to July 2014 Rocio Bruquetas worked as Painting Conservator at the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain (IPCE, Culture Ministry). She works currently at the Museum of America. She has restored works of important Spanish painters of the Modern Age, as, for example, Pedro Berruguete, Francisco de Zurbarán, José de Ribera, Francisco Rizi y Francisco de Goya, and she has directed the restauration of numerous altarpieces and paintings series. He has also conducted research at the Physical Research Laboratory of the Research and Training Area of the IPCE. 

She is PhD in Art History from the University Complutense of Madrid, with a doctoral thesis entitled “Técnicas y materiales de la pintura española en los Siglos de Oro”, edited by the Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia del Arte Hispánico in 2002. Her expertise as a researcher is the painting technology primary sources in Spain. On this subject she has published many articles and book chapters, has teached in courses and seminars of same topic and was invited like lecture at differents universities from Spain, Portugal, Peru, Argentina and Mexico.

Currently she directs the periodical journal  Ge-conservación, edited by the Spanish Group of International Institute for Conservation (GEIIC) (