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15 January 2020True Blue: Lapis Lazuli and ultramarine in the Middle Ages

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True Blue: Lapis Lazuli and ultramarine in the Middle Ages Sally Dormer Wednesday 15 January 2020

Sally is a lecturer and tutor for the Early Medieval Year Course at V&A. Dean of 'European Studies' for 2 US Universities. Freelance lecturer for The Art Fund. Study tours, cruises and tour groups. BA (History) University of Durham; PhD (Medieval Manuscript illumination) and MA (Medieval History of Art) Courtauld Institute.

In the language of medieval colour symbolism blue was deemed the most precious of all. It conjured the colour of the sky, and by extension, the colour of heaven, God’s dwelling place. As a result, lapis lazuli, the precious purple-blue stone, only available from north-eastern Afghanistan was much sought after during the Middle Ages. This lecture explores how the stone was mined and traded vast distances; and then carved into cameos, sometimes inlaid with gold; cut into minute tesserae for micro-mosaics; or ground and refined to make the costly pigment ultramarine, which has been identified in a surprising number of medieval panel paintings, wall paintings, manuscript illuminations and sculpture.