homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

Harvard’s Pigment Collection

posted by Chrysanthe Tenentes   Oct 22, 2018

As the daughter of a trained art conservationist, I find this endlessly fascinating.

harvard-crimsons.jpg

Edward Forbes, the former director of Harvard’s Fogg Art Museums, amassed a collection that is essentially a library of color.

With the help of these rainbow-bright samples, scientists are able to ward off color loss. They can restore faded pieces through identifying what chemical response caused the fading in the first place. They can also reconstruct stories of paintings and people through an examination of the minerals they used to create their colors and the binding materials they sourced from nature. The color library is a working laboratory, one that traces the history of color from ancient stones to twenty-first-century nanotubes.

harvard-rothko.jpg

The library helped with the restoration of Harvard’s faded Rothko mural, the subject of one of my favorite New Yorker essays. Here’s a list of the ten rarest pigments in the Forbes collection.