volcanoes

Posted in Art, Getty Research Institute

Volcano Observer: Sir William Hamilton and Mount Vesuvius

View of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Peter Fabris. Hand-colored engraving in Sir William Hamilton, Campi Phlegraei, 1776.
Interior view of the crater of Mount Vesuvius, as it was before the eruption of 1767, Plate IX in Sir William Hamilton, Campi Phlegraei, 1776

As news of the erupting and disruptive Icelandic volcano has streamed worldwide, we should pause to pay homage to the pioneering work of the British diplomat, collector, and amateur vulcanologist Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803). Appointed Britain’s special envoy to the Spanish court… 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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