The Adoration of a Golden Image (detail), from World Chronicle, about 1400–1410, Regensburg, unknown artist. The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Alchemy of Color in Medieval Manuscripts


The Getty Center

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the manufacture of pigments and colored inks used for painting and writing manuscripts was part of the science of alchemy, a precursor of modern chemistry concerned with the transformation of matter. This exhibition examines colorants made from plants, minerals, and metals, as well as medieval recipes for pigments and imitation gold in a presentation that highlights the Getty’s ongoing research into the materials used by book illuminators. The manuscripts installation complements the concurrent Getty Research Institute’s exhibition The Art of Alchemy, which examines both the impact of alchemy around the world on artistic practice and its expression in visual culture from antiquity to the present.

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