coats of arms

Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books, Paintings

A Call to Arms! Heraldry in Renaissance Florence (And a Mystery You Can Help Solve)

virgin_child
The Virgin and Child Surrounded by Saints, between 1350 and 1365, Follower of Bernardo Daddi (possibly Pietro Nelli). Tempera and gold leaf on panel, 37 ½ x 26 in. (95.3 x 66 cm). Portland Art Museum, 61.51

Heraldry is a fascinating and complex system by which coats of arms are devised and decoded.  My familial arms—yes, my family has a coat of arms, and yours may have too—are composed of an intricate grouping of objects, including a… More»

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Posted in Art, Education, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Masterpiece of the Week: A Silver Treasure Spared the King’s Meltdown

Silver fountain / Jean Leroy

This silver fountain, featured in the exhibition The Life of Art and our current Masterpiece of the Week tours, is a survivor of one of history’s greatest meltdowns. Created in France in the 1660s, it was brought to England by… 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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