July 14 marks the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt’s birth, an event celebrated by exhibitions and events in Vienna and right here at the Getty, with Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line. This summer, we are in the grips of… More»
The vibrant blue in the above image of Saint George and the Dragon (Master of Buillebert de Mets, about 1450-55) still looks remarkably vivid to modern eyes, but to medieval readers it wouldn’t have just looked eye-catching—it would have looked expensive. Why? Because this particular blue pigment (ultramarine) required lapis lazuli, like the carved stone above (Roman, second century AD). For centuries all lapis was sourced from a single mountain range in Afghanistan, meaning that a French medieval manuscript with the color required a lot of financial resources!
For more on ultramarine and other shades of blue, check out The Brilliant History of Color in Art.
Both objects are from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum.