'Colores Quibus Pictores Utuntur.' The Integration and Disintegration of Pigment Knowledge in the Sixteenth Century

'Colores Quibus Pictores Utuntur.' The Integration and Disintegration of Pigment Knowledge in the Sixteenth Century

Doris Oltrogge

malachite_eigene.jpg

Malachite mineral - schiffergrün - berggrün - chrysocolla

Pigments form the material color for painting. Their use involves various practices and types of expertise, whether from miners, pigment makers or painters themselves. In around the middle of the sixteenth century the epistemic shift in early natural science initiated a further discourse on pigments. In his seminal works on mineralogy Georg Agricola discussed the formation and classification of minerals and metals. His classification was further developed in early scientific mineral collections such as those of Johann Kentmann or Felix Platter. Their categories included the substances' color hue or use as painters' pigments, but their approach was quite different to that of painters. This essay examines the interrelationship between the pigment discourses of early modern natural science and artists. It argues that the exchange of knowledge was selective dependent on the respective concepts of the disciplines.