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History of pigments and their usage

Discussion in 'Research' started by vivienne, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. vivienne

    vivienne Acolyte

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    I am interested in learning more about pigments and their history, from Renaissance until modern times. I found an older thread here called Ask me about Art which is really cool and already informative, but as far as I can see, inactive for some years.
    Nevertheless, if anyone could help me out with some answers, or guide me towards some resources, I would be grateful!

    For example, I would like to know about how these pigments were made and if they were dangerous. Scheele's Green and Paris Green used to be quite popular, until they were replaced by friendlier, far less toxic alternatives.
    I've read a bit about this topic in Bill Bryson's "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" but I can't find the book at the moment and it didn't explore the topic that deep anyhow.
    Plus, if you know more about how painting/fresco restoration was made between 1600 - 1800, please do share!
     
  2. It's a little off the exact inquiry but there's a book called "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay. I picked it up years ago because I loved the cover (also the topic!) and it was one of the best books I have ever read about the origins of pigments/colors, pigments vs dyes, and covers plenty of ground on the toxicity of pigments containing lead etc. It also brushes on the impact on society of each pigment as it was developed. Carmine Red from the blood of insects, aboriginal ochres, ultramarine from Afghan mines, the accidental discovery of Tyrian purple and more.
     
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  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    On a hunch, I took this "how painting/fresco restoration was made between 1600 - 1800" straight from the OP and plugged it into search engines. Without digging very deep, I found the following.

    https://www.getty.edu/conservation/...pdf_publications/pdf/historical_paintings.pdf
    Early Modern Low Countries

    This search string "paints and pigments between 1600 - 1800" was more useful. I'll let those interested pick through the results. Short version: we know a fair amount about this. Information gets sketchy (hah!) before 1500 or so.
     
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  4. vivienne

    vivienne Acolyte

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    Great resources! Thank you. I will start with the Victoria Finlay books and progress slowly from there. :)
     
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  5. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I've started reading the conference proceedings [I should know the exact word for it but it escapes me this morning]. There is a lot and I mean a LOT of detailed information in there. It is a pleasure to read.
    Thank you Skip for finding it for me, especially when I didn't know I needed to know about the subject.
     
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  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    NP, CupofJoeCupofJoe.

    The history of any pre-industrial craft offers potential for the storyteller. With paint, I immediately think of how similar mixing pigments is to mixing elements for a spell or enchantment. Or making magical paint. Even the most mundane of trades would repay study, especially for those not looking to write epic fantasy. The craft-y touches could still add color, though I'm not sure it'd be worth the time needed to research.
     
  7. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I’ll have to check into this, the system of magic I use has the potential to use minerals to enchant a painting, but I hadn’t dug deep enough to see beyond a few obvious sources of power.
     
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