Journey through colour

The National Gallery's 'Making Colour' exhibition explores the surprising materials used to create pigments throughout history. From sparkling minerals to crushed insects, read about some of the discoveries you can expect to find in each room.


The journey starts with blue. From ultramarine - the purest and richest but most expensive blue made from lapis lazuli mined in remote Badakshan in Afghanistan - to the 19th-century discovery of an artificial form, French Ultramarine. Exhibits in this room show the range of blues available to artists including azurite and Prussian blue and the very varied quality of these pigments.

Pierre Mignard’sThe Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons’, with her striking blue robe, is set against ancient objects made of lapis lazuli from the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Pierre Mignard, ‘The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons’, 1691


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