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Alchemy and Adventure: A History of Exotic Colours and Poisonous Pigments

Lynne Gibson

Wednesday 21st November 2018

It is easy to take colour for granted, but before organic chemistry the most desirable pigments were often rare, exotic or poisonous. Merchants supplied cochineal ‘guana’ from the holds of Spanish galleons, pungent golden nuggets from India and lapis rock carried by camel train from the mountains of Badakhstan.

Alchemists prepared deadly King’s Yellow, mysterious Vitriol of Venus and Moorish Gold concocted from basilisk powder and human blood. Small wonder artists kept their paint recipes closely guarded in Books of Secrets.

This lecture tells the stories of alchemy and adventure behind some of our most beautiful and colourful paintings.

Lynne Gibson

Lynne now works as a freelance lecturer in the History of Art, Critical and Contextual Studies as well as practical drawing, painting and printmaking.

She gives talks to a wide range of organisations and institutions as well as working as a professional artist specialising in painting and etching.