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Journey through colour


Cosimo Tura, ‘A Muse (Calliope?)’, probably 1455-60
Cosimo Tura, ‘A Muse (Calliope?)’, probably 1455-60

The ‘Red' room demonstrates how a group of red pigments was made from a fascinating assortment of minerals, synthetic substances, plants and insects. It follows the creation of red from madder - made from the root of a plant and in use as far back as ancient Egypt - to the most intense and expensive reds, produced from the bodies of insects.

Textile exhibits in this room show how red dyes used for cloth could also be adapted to make paint. Paintings from the collection such as Cosimo Tura’sA Muse (Calliope?)’ can be seen alongside fragments of beautiful crimson velvet brocade on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.