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Sneak Peek—From the Lab: Pigments in Chinese Painting at the NMAA

Sneak Peek—From the Lab: Pigments in Chinese Painting
National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution

Online event, February 14, 2023, 12pm (EST)

Pigments in the Chinese palette for paintings on silk and paper from the Song dynasty (960–1279) through the early twentieth century were identified in a study of over two hundred paintings from the National Museum of Asian Art’s collections. Detailed studies of both scholar-paintings and portraits revealed that the introduction of new imported pigments such as Prussian blue, invented in Germany in 1704, and cochineal, an insect dye from the Americas, occurred primarily in the products of professional painters. In this talk, senior scientist Blythe McCarthy will discuss the research on Chinese paintings in the context of the museum’s past, present, and future scientific studies of pigments. This multiyear scientific research project was partially funded through grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation. The results of the research are available in the book Scientific Studies of Pigments in Chinese Paintings.

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