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.

What unites these works from so many different cultures is the collector’s eye. And they are united too for us looking at them, knowing that this colour, this lovely blueness, used in all of them, does not come from on high but rather it comes from history, it was developed by trade and commerce, including the slave trade. What seems miraculous and timeless was shaped by complex human forces. This idea makes the works seem almost defenceless as they wallow and indulge themselves in troubled light, alert to their own beauty and fragility and strange heritage. They are in time and out of time as the enfolding shadows grow around them in the old city.

(1) John Gage, Colour and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction (London 1993), p35
(2) Quoted in Basic Color Terms, Berlin and Kay, (Berkeley, 1999), p27
(3) Gage p36
(4) Michel Pastoureau, Blue: The History of Color (Princeton, 2002) p75
(5) Gage p73
(6) Ibid p80
(7) Ibid p64
(8) Alexander Theroux, The Primary Colours (London, 1995) p 22
(9) K.T.A. Halbertsma, A History of the Theory of Colour (Amsterdam, 1949) p7
(10) Quoted Gage p15
(11) Pastoureau p26
(12) Quoted in Gage p29
(13) Gage p44
(14) Ibid p30
(15) Ibid p31
(16) Carl B. Boyer, The Rainbow: From Myth to Mathematics (Princeton, 1987) pp48-49
(17) Pastoureau p72
(18) Quoted in Theroux p44
(19) Pastoureau p83
(20) Ibid p123
(21) Quoted in Pastoureau p80
(22) Pastoureau p124
(23) Ibid p134
(24) William Gass, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Enquiry, (Manchester, 1979) p59
(25) Theroux, p 33
(26) Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fish,(London, 2002) p298
(27) Quoted in Theroux p 49
(28) Quoted in Theroux p 64
(29) Quoted in Theroux p16
(30) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theory of Colours (London, 1840) pp 310-311
(31) Bomford and Roy, Colour, (London, 2000), pp 25-26
(32) Bomford, Dunkerton, Gordon, Roy, Italian Painting Before 1400 (London, 1989) p 35
(33) Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting (New York, 1956) p 148
(34) Jenny Balfour-Paul, Indigo, (London, 1998), p 55
(35) Ibid p 28
(36) Pastoureau, p126
(37) Ibid p 56
(38) Quoted in Balfour-Paul p 41
(39) Balfour-Paul p131
(40) Bomford and Roy p 30

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