even the evil magenta
And creative we were. In fact, the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies in the Harvard Art Museum has its own repository of rare colours, sourced from some rather unique places.
How unique exactly? Director Narayan Khandekar (formerly of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum) is happy to explain:
It can be beetles that come off a cactus, it can be the dried urine of a cow, little insects that grow on a oak tree, a chunk of lead that’s soaked in vinegar, it’s truly amazing.
Yes, you read that right: urine.
Take Indian Yellow, which Khandekar states the museum has “an entire ball of”:
This is a pigment that’s made from the dried urine of cows that have fed only on mango leaves.
Apparently the Center has 2500 pigments available for public viewing, including “Mummy” and “Dragon’s blood”. Going by the description of Indian Yellow, perusing the museum’s wares sounds as much an olfactory sensation as a visual one.