Event—Center for Renaissance Studies

Re-Creating the Medieval Palette

Conservation Services and the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library will host a four-day workshop, Recreating the Medieval Palette with Cheryl Porter April 8-11, 2019.
This class will study the materials (rocks, minerals, metals, insects and plants) that were processed to produce the colors used by artists throughout the medieval era. The focus of this series will mostly (though not exclusively) be on Islamic and European manuscript art. A series of public lectures will address the history, geography, chemistry, iconography and conservation issues surrounding these pigments and their use.

All morning lectures will be presented with Powerpoint and examine colours used to paint manuscripts- Western, Hebrew, and Islamic. Topics will include chemical and physical properties of pigments and media, original recipes and methods of manufacture, economic and iconographic importance. Binding media such as gum and egg will examined. Various methods of identifying pigments will be discussed. All morning lectures take place from 9 am to 12 pm, with a break for coffee and refreshments at 10:30 am.

Practical making and painting sessions will follow these lectures, in which participants will re-create the colors using original recipes. No previous experience is necessary. The afternoon laboratory sessions will provide opportunity for participants to prepare samples of the pigments discussed using historic recipes. Students will produce a pigment chart for their own use. Methods of sampling pigments from original materials will be demonstrated and practical consolidation techniques for flaking and friable pigments will be discussed.

Cheryl Porter has been Director of the Montefiascone Project since its inception in 1988. She worked at University College London Paintings Analysis Unit, analyzing the use of pigments in paintings and manuscripts. She was Manager of Conservation and Preservation at the Dar al-Kutub (National Library and Archives of Egypt) and Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation 2007-2010 and is a consultant for a number of institutions with book, papyrus and manuscript collections. She is currently writing a book on the use of color in manuscripts for Yale University Press.

Registrants are responsible for their own hotel accommodations and meals. Registrants will receive information including a syllabus, hotel information, and other pertinent details.

Please contact Lesa Dowd with any questions at dowdl@newberry.org OR 312.255.3549

Lecture Schedule

Monday, April 8

Earth Colors and the Natural Mineral Colors

Tuesday, April 9

Artificial (Synthetic) Colors and Metals Used in Manuscripts

Wednesday, April 10

Making Organic Colors Into "Lake" Colors
Studying the Yellow and Green Organic Colors

Thursday, April 11

Red Organic Colors and Organic Blues