Solvent-Free Italian Varnish is not a picture varnish but a gel oil painting medium. Italian Varnish was first mentioned by Jean-François-Léonor Mérimée in his 1839 book, The Art of Painting in Oil and in Fresco, as a “strong oil prepared in Italy from a very remote period, and which possesses the double-advantage of drying well, and preventing the flowing about of the most liquid glazing.”
Italian Varnish uses linseed oil, litharge, wax, and ground as fine as possible.. It is an amber gel medium that performs similarly to Maroger medium, except instead of mastic, it incorporates wax, which is ideal for those artists who prefer a thicker painting consistency and faster drying time.
Italian Varnish sets quickly while providing transparency and body to oil colors when mixed in glazes. It gives paint a somewhat fluffy consistency, making it possible to use its subtle properties in many ways. In addition to the soft sheen of the medium, the artist now has the means of more rapid execution. Artists can mix the Italian Varnish into light pigments to give these colours more body and a thicker consistency. It can help to build up the lights and adds transparency and impasto for the brightest passages of a painting.