Many types of plastic used in artworks are now beginning to exhibit serious signs of deterioration – discoloration, crazing and cracking, warping, becoming sticky, and in extreme cases, turning completely to powder. The sheer number of plastics available constitutes a huge challenge for the conservation profession. 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.