Episode 188: Alchemy's Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation

An Alchemist in his Studio, Thomas Wijck. CHF Collections

An Alchemist in his Studio, Thomas Wijck. CHF Collections

Our latest show explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservators who save paintings from the ravages of time and accidental chemistry.

"Alchemy’s Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation" features art conservator Mark F. Bockrath and art historian and CHF fellow Elisabeth Berry Drago.

Our guests discuss and show the messy and occasionally dangerous process of making paints from pigments and the transition to using paints from tubes. They explain how conservators preserve paintings and why alchemists were so important to painters in early modern times.

Show Clock:

00:07 Introduction

01:15 Painting like it’s 1699 with Elisabeth Berry Drago

05:39 The time-consuming nature of natural materials

08:07 Girl with a Pearl Earring clip

12:44 Ultramarine, the ultra expensive pigment

14:51 The dark side of art: toxic pigments

20:24 Call to the community – watch the full webcast on Vimeo

20:54 Alchemy

22:54 Conservation


Hosts: Michal Meyer & Bob Kenworthy

Producer, reporter & editor: Mariel Carr

Guests: Mark F. Bockrath and Elisabeth Berry Drago

Music Credits:

"Pensacola Twilight," Lee Rosevere

"Do What You Can," Lee Rosevere 

"Backtime," Lee Rosevere

"Stardust," Phonotrash 

"Sunny Day," The Rabbits 

"Wonder Cycle," Chris Zabriskie 

"Nia," Dubh Thrian 

"Tragic," Semyon 

"Converge to Some Centre," We Are All Alone 

"First," Overlake 

"The Plaintive Heating Griddle," Ergo Phizmiz 

Songs above courtesy of the Free Music Archive

"Stabbings,"Moby -

Links to show content:

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Elisabeth Berry Drago at CHF




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