A Brief History Of Red

The Paris Review says: ‘Thanks to recipe collections in manuscript form, the first printed manuals, and analyses done in laboratories, we have good knowledge about the materials involved in the composition of pigments used by illuminators and painters in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. For reds, the list is long but the materials hardly differ from those in use in ancient Rome: cinnabar (natural mercuric sulfide, rare and costly), realgar (natural arsenic sulfide, unstable and even more rare), minium (white lead artificially heated, very commonly used), and, especially for mural painting, clays rich in iron oxide, either naturally red (hematite) or heated to transform yellow ocher into red ocher.’

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