School of Art, Media, and Technology

Parsons Faculty Pedro Cuni on Recreating 2000 Year-Old Encaustic Paint Formula

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My father, who is an artist and an expert in painting materials, claimed that he had rediscovered the original encaustic formula, throughout his studies of the Roman paintings in Pompeii in 1961. He has used this painting material since then. His work can be seen in some of the most important museums in the world, like MoMA.

My brother, Jorge Cuni and I thought that if this was for real the authentic formula, it would be one of the most important discoveries in art history and we should try to demonstrate it in a scientific way.


Pedro Cuni – Photo:

With the help of experts in classical Greek and Latin, we retranslated all the ancient books that talk about painting in any way. We read everything that has been written, from manuscripts to books, since the renaissance to today, that talk about encaustic and/or the use of beeswax in painting. We have carried out chemical analysis of 2000 years old Roman samples of paint in the MCI of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

I spent the last 7 years finishing the analysis in the department of chemistry of Cooper Union where I was teaching painting at the time, and now we have finally proven that our formula and the ancient one is exactly the same. It “only” took us 25 years of research!

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Our historical and scientific research was published last year by the Royal Academy of Chemistry in London, in their scientific journal “Analytical Methods”

Last June I made a presentation, consisting of a lecture and exhibition of my paintings, of the rediscovery of the encaustic’s original formula.

Two years ago, my brother and I started a company, Encaustic Cuni, that produces encaustic paint with exactly the same formula used by Greek and Roman artists 2000 years ago.

This paint media is a water based beeswax paint that does not require heat or heating tools to work with. It can be used as liquid as a watercolor or as thick as an oil paint. It is nontoxic in any way and since it is water soluble, doesn’t need any toxic solvents.

The paint was presented this year at the CreativeWorld International Fair in Frankfurt, Germany with 2,967 exhibitors and 83,600 visitors.

Visit Encaustic Cuni for more info.

Savizky Analysis Methods 2012[1]

Savizky Analysis Methods 2]

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