How did medieval artists source and create their pigments? What techniques and resources did they use? How can modern artists' techniques help us understand how medieval artists applied their paints? How can modern analytic equipment help us understand both pigments and techniques? This list of links provides some good starting points for exploring these questions.
- The website "Illuminated" at the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, UK) is your best one-stop shopping for learning what medieval artists made their colorants from, how they applied those colors, and especially how materials analysis and multispectral photography can help illuminate these questions: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/illuminated/. The Fitzwilliam also has an online exhibition based upon these same investigations: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/colour/explore/introduction.
- The Yale Traveling Scriptorium (https://travelingscriptorium.library.yale.edu/) has many useful articles on producing inks and paints, including a medieval recipe book.
- The Pigments Through the Ages website allows you to investigate historical pigments by time period, pigment type, or color: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/medieval.html
Sourcing and Creating Inks and Pigments
- The Fitzwilliam's Illuminated website section on artist's materials: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/illuminated/lab/lab/overview-of-artists-materials
- Pigments Through The Ages has basic and advanced information: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/pigments.html
- On iron gall inks, a post from the British Library's Collection Care blog: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/collectioncare/2013/08/iron-gall-ink-and-wasps.html
- A medieval recipe for Iron Gall ink: https://sarahpeverley.com/2014/01/29/iron-gall-ink-a-medieval-recipe/
- The Getty Museum's video on making pigments explains some of the links between paint-making and alchemy: https://youtu.be/REMPiP5Fgmc
- The Yale Traveling Scriptorium discusses the production of lapis lazuli, iron gall ink, and verdigris.
- The Edinburgh Medieval Pigment Project focuses on textile dyes rather than paint pigments, but there will be overlap for the production of organic colorants: https://edinburghmedievalpigmentproject.com/category/about-us/
- The website Chromatopia also provides information on select pigments: http://chromatopia.org/project/middle-ages-renaissance/
Medieval Techniques for Drawing, Illumination and Painting
- The Getty Museum's video "Making Manuscripts" nicely show the process of illumination and painting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aDHJu9J10o&feature=youtu.be
- Get a better handle on the "how" of gilding and painting by watching modern artists decorate in medieval (or "medieval-lite" in some cases) methods:
- One video from the NYPL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIUQznSEPl0
- One video from Wisconsin Public Radio (a little shaky but it works): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqw849aUjD0
- A sequence of three videos from Bygone Arts's Ellesmere Chaucer Reproduction playlist: please watch Part 4, Polishing, and Parts 5a-b, Painting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL4RHo4Xl4M&list=PL1A2A3D067F008D05&index=6 (n.b. What's important here is watching the artist give the effects of depth via the layering of colors. So don't skip over if they seem tedious!)
- The Fitzwilliam's Illuminated website has a detailed section on artist's techniques: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/illuminated/lab/lab/overview-of-artists-techniques
- The Met's online exhibition Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages explores medieval drawing and draftsmanship, as preparation for paint and illumination and for other purposes: http://blog.metmuseum.org/penandparchment/introduction/
Medieval Pigment Recipes
- Yale University's Traveling Scriptorium booklet of medieval ink and pigment recipes (translated): https://travelingscriptorium.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/scopa-recipes-booklet_web-june-2014.pdf
- French pigment recipes (with translations), from British Library, Harley MS 2253 (items 9-17): http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/publication/fein-harley2253-volume-2
Understanding Materials Analysis and Multispectral Photographic Investigative Techniques
- The Fitzwilliam's Illuminated website has a detailed and highly informative section on their analytic methods: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/illuminated/lab/lab/analytical-methods
- A video on the Cambridge University and Fitzwilliam Museum's scientific analysis of manuscripts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMRvXnB7uJg
- Cambridge University and the Fitzwilliam Museum are pioneering the next generation of materials analysis via advanced fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), which you can read more about: https://www.labnews.co.uk/features/unlocking-the-secrets-of-illuminated-manuscripts-08-11-2012/
Additional articles of interest
- On the interplay of alchemy and medieval colorants, by way of two museum exhibitions: https://www.forbes.com/sites/drsarahbond/2016/11/16/creating-the-philosophers-stone-the-medieval-science-of-color-and-alchemy/#305235d61501
- When graduate students at Cornell University examined some of their manuscripts via XRF analysis, they made some unexpected discoveries about the color blue: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-blue-medieval-fragments-yield.html
- A review of a book about recipes for red, from the middle ages on: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/02/14/the-red-of-painters/