In Lovely Blueness: Adventures in Troubled Light

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In 2004 Colm Toibin curated an exhibition at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin called 'Blue' which consisted of blue objects from the collection. This is his introduction to the catalogue.

Europe produced its own blue called azurite, less powerful and beautiful than lapiz lazuli, blue with a greenish turquoise tinge; this went out of use in the seventeenth century. In 1704, the real victory of blue was technically established in the invention of a synthetic pigment called Prussian blue; this had a very powerful intense deep colour which became generally available by 1720. In 1803 cobalt blue was invented and in 1828 a synthetic version of ultramarine. (40) This meant that nineteenth century painters had a vast arsenal of blues cheaply at their disposal. Blue, which had been much loved and easily available in the east, was now ready to take over in the west. Thus we could begin to study, collect and appreciate work from the east which had so gloriously used the colour we had been missing for more than a thousand years.

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