Back to  "The Secret formulas and Techniques of the Masters" By Jacques Maroger ...


P 42 American Artist, March 1976


Allow no water or other cold liquid anywhere in the vicinity of the cooking process. All materials must be absolutely dry. A drop of water in the hot oil could cause violent splattering. Use an asbestos mat on the flame to avoid direct heat on the pot.

Use a pot nearly twice as large as required for the batch you are making, as the mixture will expand while cooking.

Hahn advises, "We are aware of valid variations on these recipes and preparations that work well in competent and responsible painters' hands. For example: more or less litharge (the most being 1/10 the weight of the oil; the least being 1/20 the weight). In New Mexico's dry atmosphere we use the minimum litharge quantity recommended by

Maroger. Longer cooking at a slightly lower temperature is acceptable. The quantity of linseed oil is another variable: slightly more or less could be used. We would advise, though, as far as possible, that artists refer to this basic recipe for guidance."

Recipe for the Venetian Medium:

The quantities listed make seven quarts. This is the general suggested

amount, but the recipe can be halved, following same instructions for time and temperature.


7 quarts (raw) Linseed oil

10 ounces lead oxide, PbO) poisonous


24 ounces (pure and untreated) Bees-wax

Cooking utensils: Enameled pot with lid

Thermometer reading to 300 degrees centigrade

Wooden spoon Asbestos mat Ladle

Clean babyfood jars (4 ounce with screw lids)

Painting spatula

Sheet of glass

Several sheets of newspaper

A gas stove is recommended because the flame can be easily controlled.

#Equipment and ingredients used in making Maroger medium. Clockwise from bottom: centigrade thermometer to 300 degrees; asbestos mat; litharge (PbO); palette knife; large, lidded, enameled pot; wooden spoon; cakes of raw beeswax in center; raw linseed oil; gum turpentine, mastic crystals in bag and box; glass jars; cup ladle; and cooked jars of medium.


Put enameled pot and sheet of glass near each other on table Empty beeswax into pot. Pour off up to 1/2 cup of the oil and put it aside. Then pour the rest of the oil into the pot onto the beeswax. On the sheet of glass, use a spatula to mix the saved oil and litharge into a loose paste. This should be done in several small batches to create an even consistency. And is all added to the oil and beeswax in cooking pot.

Cooking: Make sure all materials are absolutely dry. (see Precautions)

Place asbestos mat over burner. Place pot with oil, beeswax, and litharge on pad, and turn on flame to medium heat. Total cooking time is 2½ hours. Stir occasionally throughout the cooking and keep a close eye on the thermometer. (The stirring will control the stickiness of the litharge on the bottom of the pot at the lower temperatures and the creamy foam that appears at the higher temperatures.) The cooking is essentially a long simmer and keeping the temperature within prescribed boundaries is essential. After one hour the temperature should reach 160 to 180 degrees centigrade. No higher! If the temperature gets too high at any point, lower the flame. After two hours it should reach just over 200 degrees centigrade. In the last half-hour of cooking time the temperature should reach 250" centigrade, at which temperature the chemical combination, takes place. This last half-hour should be over a very hot flame to force the temperature to rise. Stop the cooking when the temperature has reached 250" centigrade. Don't permit it to go above 250 degrees or to continue cooking. Prolonged cooking makes a chewing gum consistency unsuitable for artistic use.

Storing: Place newspaper padding on table in cool location. Table surface should not be cold. Remove pot to newspaper in cooler location.Allow temperature to drop to 140 degrees and then ladle into the empty jars.(*If using tubes the mixture needs to cool further so that the tops of the tubes don't melt,Carol Allison) Fill 3/4 full. Allow to cool and solidify. Add water to fill jar and lid it to keep the medium air tight. Store away from excessive heat and cold.(*the water is only needed for Jars)

Recipe for The Flemish Medium:

Takes seven quarts. The recipe can be halved, following same instructions for time and temperature.


4 quarts (raw) Linseed oil 6 ounces

(lead oxide, PbO) poisonous Litharge

3 quarts Turpentine

42.8 ounces Mastic crystal tears (resin

from the lentisk tree in dry, translucent, yellow-white crystals)


Same as the Venetian medium except that for this medium the litharge and the oil are the only ingredient that is cooked. Mix the litharge with up to ½ cup of the oil in small batches with the spatula on the glass sheet to make a smooth paste. Add to the rest of the oil and begin cooking. Stir occasionally throughout the cooking. This medium requires a lower heat than the Venetian because it cooks faster. However, follow the times and temperatures readings as given for the Venetian.


At the end of 2 1/2 hours, when the mixture is at 250 degrees centigrade, remove to a newspaper padding and allow to cool only to 200 degrees. Stir and fan the mixture to hasten the cooling. Add, in small amounts of the mastic crystals, stirring constantly. The mixture will expand. A foam will appear but will descend if stirred. When all the mastic is in the oil, add the turpentine very slowly and cautiously. Adding it too quickly can cause an eruption of the material. The foam will reappear but will descend from stirring and fanning. Allow to cool to 130 degrees centigrade and ladle into jars.(* A note from Carol Allison:At this point I recommend straining the mixture through cheesecloth or a paint strainer as bits of bark,twigs and dirt are in the mastic. It worked well to have another pot the same size on hand so the whole mixture could be strained all at once.) Fill jars ¾ full.(*If using tubes the mixture needs to cool further so that the tops of the tubes don't melt,and leave about 1 and 1/4 inches from the top in order to close the tube,Carol Allison) Allow to cool and solidify the mixture. Add the water to fill jar and lid it. Beneath its layer of water the mediums should keep indefinitely. Add water during use to keep it covered.

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