Originally a literary term, it was first used in relation to the visual arts in the Renaissance in the writings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519).According to da Vinci's theory of Decorum, the gestures which a figure makes must not only demonstrate feelings, but must be appropriate to age, rank, and position.Some of the dead-coloring can be made out here and there through abraded paint layers.It has been remarked that more than one passage in appears unfinished and that this allows us to have a glimpse at Vermeer's underpainting although it is not out of the question that early restoration may be partially responsible for the loss of the uppermost paint layers.Dead-coloring was so important in the painting process that it was mandatory in early days of Flemish painting.
This means that it does not form a thick layer like normal varnishes, and is therefore used for bringing out the full wet appearance of the oil paint on a dry ground before resuming painting.
Dammar varnish does yellow and crack, as all varnishes do, but less so than others.
The addition of Dammar in a paint medium adds brilliance and luminosity to color.
Maintaining an abundant stock of images on spec may have been a expedient to entice prospective buyers. , the brown (raw umber and/or black) dead-color filled two functions: the broader areas of dark brown paint represented the masses of shadows with the light buff color of the ground serving as the lights.
In the early , a carefully brushed underdrawing was followed by a monochrome dead-coloring in order to determine the essential forms of the composition.
Some of the decorative features have been painted with medium blue paint over the monochrome ground, most likely a mixture of natural ultramarine blue and a touch of lead white.