Oil varnish

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Any protective coating that contains a drying oil, such as Tung oil or Linseed oil. Some early resin-oil varnish recipes in the 12th century contained a resin, such as Sandarac, Amber, or Copal, dissolved in a boiled linseed oil. Oil varnishes dry by polymerization producing a tough, insoluble film. They have a dark initial color that darkens more with age. When used on oil paintings, they may cause cracking and wrinkling of the paint layers. Long-oil varnishes, such as Spar varnish, have a high proportion of Drying oil. Short-oil varnishes have a lower proportion.

Synonyms and Related Terms

vernis à l'huile (Fr.); barniz al aceite (Esp.); vernice cotta (It);

Examples include: cooked oil varnish; hard oil varnish; linseed oil varnish; oil resin varnish;

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Paint in America, Robert Moss (ed.), John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1994 Comment: Ian Bristow "House Painting in Britain"