History of Encaustic Painting

Encaustic painting has its roots in 5th century BC in ancient Greek and Egyptian history. The oldest known pigment binder mixes molten bees wax with pigment and tree resin. Greeks that settled in Egypt adapted the funerary customs of honouring the dead by painting a portrait of the deceased to be placed over the person’s mummy. The most notably known as the “Fayum Portraits” which are the only surviving encaustic paintings from ancient times that are over 3500 years old.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, encaustic fell into obscurity for a time. Leonardo da Vinci and others attempted to revive the technique. Later, in the 20th century, appeared a major resurgence of encaustic painting.

Today some artists either use oil paint, buy commercially pigmented encaustic medium or use dry pigment. Vincent van Gogh, like many other artists used bees wax in their paints although, they are not in the true sense of the definition of encaustic painting.

All images on this page used with permission from allthingsencaustic

historic encaustic painting
Fayum female encaustic painting from funeral portraits.