About: Sharon E. Gerstel

I teach Byzantine art history and archaeology at UCLA. My research focuses on medieval Greece—its rich culture of monasteries and villages, its landscape, its urban dwellers, and its more humble residents. I've written numerous books and articles and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010.

Posts by Sharon

Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Villa

Uncovering the History of a Long-Buried Byzantine Treasure

Hagia Sophia mosaic of the Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary wears ornamented cuffs to secure her sleeves in this mosaic in Hagia Sophia. Photo from Mosaics of Thessaloniki: 4th to 14th century, ed. Charalambos Bakirtzis (Athens: 2012)

A woman’s gold cuff provides a window into the rich history of Thessaloniki. More»

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      ROSE

      This milky pink boomed into popularity because of a marketing ploy, a mistress, and its ambiguous origins.

      In an effort to compete with the renowned Meissen porcelain factory, the French Sèvres manufactory recruited the glamorous Madame de Pompadour (mistress to King Louis XV). Like a smart sponsorship deal, Sèvres gave her all the porcelain she requested. 

      Introduced in 1757, this rich pink exploded on the scene thanks to favoritism by Madame Pompadour herself. 

      The glaze itself had a weird history. To the Europeans it looked Chinese, and to the Chinese it was European. It was made based on a secret 17th-century glassmaker’s technique, involving mixing glass with flecks of gold.

      For more on colors and their often surprising histories, check out The Brilliant History of Color in Art.

      12/19/14

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