The Art and Science of Prussian Blue

As it turns out, not only is Prussian blue one of our favorite colors, it has a most interesting history…

 

“It was an accident in a Berlin laboratory (then a center for alchemy) in 1704 that changed the course of art forever. A chemist rushing to create a batch of cochineal red (made from bugs) accidentally used potash contaminated by (the iron in) animal blood that turned the concoction a deep blue – henceforth known as Prussian blue due to its geographic origins…”

 

Prussian blue is the gorgeous saturated color in this detail of the portrait of Maria de los Dolores Collado and Echague by Vicente Palmaroli, 1870, that hangs in the Prado.

 

From the Quintessence blog,

 

Prussian Blue – The Art and Science of Color
by Stacey Bewkes

“As I was scrolling through Instagram the other morning, I stopped to “like” and admire a post on Charlotte Di Carcaci’s artful feed.

 

I am constantly tempted by both fashion and decor items I encounter in this shade, such as Christopher Spitzmiller‘s handsome Alexander lamp I spied in his showroom. But did you know that Prussian blue was the link between art and science that truly transformed the world of paint? It’s easy to forget that before the 18th century paint was made from natural sources – plants, flowers, rocks etc. and creating artistic effects in paintings was a much more complicated and expensive matter. Ultramarine, made from lapis lazuli, was the first blue and more valuable than gold…”

 

For a series of incredible pictures of, and commentary on, Prussian blue objects, click here to go to the Quintessence blog.

 

 

Share

Massive Ancient City Discovered in Guatemala

As the science of archeology advances, there is no doubt we will be in awe of what is found…

 

A new pyramid found south of Tikal’s Mundo Perdido. Image: PACUNAM/Canuto & Auld-Thomas

 

From Vice.com,

 

The Ruins of a Massive Ancient City Have Been Discovered in Guatemala
With the help of lasers and drones, scientists have found that Maya civilization was more advanced and populous than previously imagined.

by Becky Ferreira

 

“The ruins of an enormous Maya ‘megalopolis’ have been discovered in Guatemala with the help of the remote sensing technique LiDAR, according to a bombshell exclusive from National Geographic on Thursday. This vast lost city envelops sites like Tikal, Holmul, and Witzna—known for their temples and pyramids—but shows that these famous heritage areas are the tip of the iceberg of this lost urban network.

 

Hidden under the dense jungle canopies of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, more than 60,000 human-made features—homes, canals, quarries, highways, and more—have been identified in aerial imagery collected by an international collaboration of researchers headed by the PACUNAM Foundation, a Maya cultural and natural heritage organization.

 

This pre-Columbian civilization is estimated to have peaked some 1,200 years ago. The data suggests it may have supported a population of 10-15 million over the newly surveilled area of 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers).

 

The advanced infrastructure, which includes agricultural terracing and elevated trade routes to prevent flooding in rainy seasons, has experts rethinking the dimensions and complexity of the Maya empire…”

 

For the rest (and lots of pictures), click here.

 

 

Share

The Fantastical Art (and History) of Early Mardi Gras

It’s Mardi Gras season!

 

Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.

 

From The Public Domain Review,

 

Illustrating Carnival: Remembering the Overlooked Artists Behind Early Mardi Gras

For more than 150 years the city of New Orleans has been known for the theatricality and extravagance of its Mardi Gras celebrations. Allison C. Meier looks at the wonderfully ornate float and costume designs from Carnival’s “Golden Age” and the group of New Orleans artists who created them.

 

“On March 6, 1889, the New York Times breathlessly reported on the recent Carnival spectacles in New Orleans. The Krewe of Rex’s pageant, themed around “Treasures of the Earth”, included a “Crystal” float “attended by figures in gorgeous costumes and prisms by the thousand”, and a “Diamond” float featuring “a rocky diamond dell” through which flowed “limpid streams where nymphs sported and played with the gems”. The Krewe of Proteus, meanwhile, dazzled with their “Hindoo Heavens” pageant, where in one scene appeared Agni “God of Fire” riding a ram that “strides the flames, attended by the fire sprites.” This opulent, and highly exoticized, interpretation of South Asian religion concluded with a tableau where “Vishnu, under the guise of a horse with silver wings, shatters the earth with his hoof and rises to the celestial abode.”

 

The modern American Mardi Gras owes much of its bombastic revelry to this late nineteenth-century “Golden Age” of Carnival design. From the invitations to the costumes to the hand fans carried by spectators, artists designed entire identities for each Krewe (a group that organizes a Carnival event). Carnival and its culminating day of festivities — Mardi Gras — was brought to the Louisiana area by the French in the late seventeenth century. Mardi Gras as it’s celebrated today is often linked to the Mistick Krewe of Comus, an Anglo-American group which in 1857 organized a debut parade themed “The Demon Actors in Milton’s Paradise Lost”. It was a departure from previous Carnivals that were more informal and tied to the Roman Catholic community. Following the Civil War, new Krewes emerged, each attempting to outdo the others with increasingly elaborate wood and papier-mâché floats pulled by teams of horses. One year it might be Medieval legends coming to life on the streets, the next flying monkeys of Chinese mythology terrorizing the crowds…”

 

For all of it (so many amazing illustrations!), click here.

 

 

Share

Next Page »