Friday, August 21, 2015

Lapis Lazuli and the history of ‘the most perfect’ color of "blue"

By Roderick Conway Morris
"Virgin in Prayer" (1640) by Sassoferrato at The National Gallery
ITALY---Today you might be able to grab five grams for about $360 in Manhattan. But, during the Renaissance the wealthy art patrons wanted the rich almost neon-like blue in religious paintings. A noble color, beautiful, the most perfect of all colors,” Cennino Cennini said of ultramarine, the pigment made from powdered lapis lazuli, in his “Book of the Arts,” written around 1400. The color blue was little used in the classical Roman world, perhaps because the hue was identified with the attire and body painting of barbarian races. Possibly because the color was devoid of pagan religious associations, the depiction of the Virgin Mary in blue became popular from the 12th century. [link]

Lapis Lazuli. The Magic of Blue. Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Through Oct. 11.