By Deane Barker

This refers to a material that has been written over many times, such as a parchment that has been cleaned and reused, or a painting canvas that has layers of paint because the painter reused it.

Parchment was rare and expensive, and made of animal skin, so it was very durable. Oil canvases are also expensive (especially for struggling artists). Both are/were often reused.

The word comes from a Greek compound word literally for “again scrape.”

It’s pronounced exactly how it looks: “PAL-um-zest.”

Why I Looked It Up

In the coffee table book Joan Miró, the opening essay discusses a painting which was painted over a drawing of Christopher Columbus. The author imagines that this was intentional:

If this is not how Miró was thinking, the fact remains that, fragmentary as it may be, he deliberately left one text to be read through another – the very definition of allegory, of which the palimpsest is the paradigm.

This is item #476 in a sequence of 730 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate