Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 15)

(Full disclosure: I wouldn't quite call this image "cool.")

Today's illustration is from Page 111 of 1929's The New Human Interest Library and, oddly, it's in a section titled "Refinishing Furniture." The image is headlined "THE WORLD AT WORK TO FILL A PAINT-BOX"...

The caption states: "All over the world men work hard in order to fill this little girl's paint box. Here, reading from left to right, we see men collecting ivory for black, insect-cells for crimson lake, resin for gamboge, cochineal for carmine, the indigo plant for indigo, the madder for brown, iron and potassium for Prussian blue, cuttlefish for sepia, earth for sienna, mercury for vermillion, and mineral for ultramarine."

That's a lot of bugs and plants and minerals and fish being used to make various historic colors. But the worst part, of course, is ivory black. It is a black pigment for painting that was made from bone char and has been used over the centuries by artists including Rembrandt, Velázquez, Manet and Picasso. It was made by grinding charred ivory, from elephant tusks, in oil.

Today, the color is more commonly termed bone black, and its manufacturers, from what I understand, have long since switched from ivory to "left over" animal bones. Meanwhile, some humane black pigments include Lamp Black, Vine Black and Mars Black. There is also Vantablack, but Sir Anish Kapoor is the only artist who is allowed to use that.

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