• (Colours) a reddish pigment derived from iron ore
  • the preliminary sketch found on a rough underlayer called the arriccio on the wall, underneath the fresco

While treating very old wall paintings, i was surprised to see sinopia showing up at places different from the final figure’s outline. When i studied more and more sinopia history, purpose and real examples, i learnt that the sinopia usually used to be the roughest (literally) of sketches made to fix the scale and position of the main figures in relation to the wall-space.

 History of Sinopia    (from Daniel V. Thompson, The Materialsand Techniques of Medieval Painting, p no 98)
In classical antiquity the great source of red ochres was Pontus Euxinus, and the choicest red earth came from the Pountine city of Sinope. This red was a valuable monopoly, and ancient Greek and Rome looked to Sinope to maintain the quality of its product. To guard against substitutions the colour was sold under a seal (stamped into cakes of colour, we may suppose), and was known as “sealed Sinope. In the Middle Ages the name of Sinope came to be applied to other earths of less distinction, and the Latin and Italianword Sinopia came to mean simply a red ochre. We have even an English from the same source, “sinoper,” which means the same, an earth red.

Source: internet

I am in the process of studying and writing more about Sinopia, the pigment as well as the process. So, all kinds of queries as well as information is most welcome at

Author: namitajaspal
Namita Jaspal, with inherited skills of art and aesthetics and passion for science, opted to pursue post- graduation in ‘Conservation of Cultural Property’ after her graduation in Science from Delhi University in 1992. Four year intense training at National Museum Institute provided the right foundation to start a career in Conservation. She is currently practicing conservation consultancy for Heritage property including monuments and collections. She has been doing independent research in conservation techniques and procedures in Indian context. She is currently working on the conservation of wall-paintings of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden temple at Amritsar. The project is nearing completion and getting a lot of appreciation for the organized and ethical treatment it is providing. It is for the first time in the history of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji (The Golden Temple) that wall painting conservation and preservation is being done in a scientific manner, keeping the codes of Ethics into consideration while decision making. Another project just completed is of the Conservation of Krishna Temple at Kishankot, Gurdaspur, Punjab. In her private Conservation Laboratory, she is not only providing onservation services, but also mentoring young aspiring conservators and archaeologists by the way of training and paid internships. She has been a guest lecturer at DIHRM (Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management). With all the updated knowledge database and innovative practical approaches relevant to the Indian conditions, she could successfully do curative and preservative treatment of very old textiles like a nine feet long flag from nineteenth century that is regarded as priceless memorabilia of second Dogra regiment at Chandi Mandir, and four hundred years old (seventeenth century) Chola Sahib Ji of Sixth Guru of Sikhs, Sri Hargobind Sahib Ji. Apart from this she has done conservation of Photograph collections, archival records, numerous paintings, manuscripts and other cultural objects. She is also involved in preparation of up-gradation proposals for museums and such organizations. Her expertise includes Conservation and preservation technologies and procedures for conservation of varied material like wall paintings, paper, photographs, textile, ceramics, stone, metal and archaeological objects.

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