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a fragment of the starry vault of heaven


I got a note from one of my arty suppliers tonight that Michael Harding — manufacturer of excellent handmade oil colors — is offering a genuine Afghan lapis lazuli oil paint. He’s not the only one — I knicked the photo from this article on genuine lapis watercolor — but there sure isn’t a lot of it out there.

You know all those illuminated manuscripts and Renaissance frescoes with the intense blue skies and amazingly blue saints’ robes? Lapis. Very dear stuff. Kings used to inventory pots of lapis paint in their treasuries and dole it out to painters after they were commissioned.

The common pigment ultramarine is a synthetic version invented in the early Nineteenth C — a much clearer and more powerful color, but lacking a certain sparkly je ne sais quoi.

Or so I’m told. I’ve never worked with the real thing.

I once splashed out $80 for a tube of Winsor and Newton’s genuine rose madder and got a tube of paint the color of bleeding gums and the consistency of snot. That learned me.

I see rose madder is down to a measley £8.80 now. And this here lapis stuff is suggested retail £71.57, but available for a modest £57 a tube.

February 10, 2016 — 9:22 pm
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