Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Is that the original blue?

Really good blue pigments are difficult to make without modern chemistry (blue is far less naturally abundant than shades like green and brown, and a lot of the blues in nature are actually created by structural patterns that reflect light in specific ways but are destroyed by attempts to powder them and then apply them to parchment. The iridescence of a soap bubble or a butterfly's wing are both due to their structure, for example.)

As a result, blue pigment was historically used very sparingly, reserved for the most important characters in a painting (the Virgin Mary was often depicted in blue, for example.)

All of which makes me wonder if these brilliant blues were really painted back in the Middle Ages, or if the image has been digitally altered in some way to enhance the colors.

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