Bibliothèque nationale de France

Posted in Antiquities, Behind the Scenes, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Conserving the Berthouville Treasure

Early 20th-century print of silver vessel number 11 from the Berthouville Treasure
Early 20th-century print of silver vessel number 11 from the Berthouville Treasure. Plate XV in Ernest Babelon, Le trésor d'argenterie de Berthouville près Bernay (Eure) (Paris, 1916). The Getty Research Institute, 2908-151

Conservation treatment represents an important moment in the life of an object, and this is particularly true for the Berthouville Treasure, an extraordinary group of Gallo-Roman silver that arrived at the Getty Villa two years ago. In collaboration with the… More»

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      gettypubs:

      COBALT

      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 

      12/18/14

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