Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ultramarine Blue

Why does the Madonna traditionally wear blue?

In the Renaissance, blue was reserved for the mother of Jesus because it was the rarest color, more expensive than gold. Originally it was made from lapis lazuli, a mineral mined in Afghanistan. Getting a supply required a long voyage ultramarinus, or "beyond the sea."

Contracts for paintings often stipulated that the artist use ultramarine, and sometimes the client was required to provide the rare pigment.

A synthetic ultramarine pigment was developed in 1826. Since then it has been an inexpensive staple of every artist's palette.

Happy holidays to all, and thanks for joining the fun.

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Malleus said...

Even when you don't add a lot of detail your work always looks so very realistic. I like this better than the 'hyperrealistic' stuff that occasionally shows up.

Unknown said...

Very interesting article James. Thanks for the education. I still think ultramarine watercolor is expensive as compared to other colors.

Fabio said...

Merry Christmas James, and everyone! :)

My Pen Name said...

Merry Christmas James and all readers!

James I believe the robe is also blue, sometimes adorned with stars because Mary is "Queen of Heaven"
the red (which on many renaissance paintings is faded to pink) symbolizes faith, white for purity and sometimes mary will have green for hope.

Tom Hart said...

Happy Holidays to you and Jeanette, James, and to your whole family. Happy Holidays to the Gurney Journey "family" of readers and contributors too! Thank you, James, for the daily wealth of artful insight and camaraderie.

erc said...

Hey James,
Merry Christmas!
Thanks again for the blog.

Linda Navroth said...

Happy Holidays to you and your family! Thanks you for all the years of fun and informative blogging!
Any of your readers that want to learn more about the colors and pigments they use might want to check out Virginia Finlay's excellent book "Color: A Natural History of the Palette". Her chapter on blue, and ultramarine in particular, is absolutely fascinating.