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ALCHEMY AND ADVENTURE: A History of Exotic Colours and Poisonous Pigments

In our modern world it's easy to take colour for granted. Yet before organic chemistry the most desirable

pigments were often exotic or poisonous.

Merchants supplied pungent yellow 'purree' nuggets from India, cochineal 'grana' from the holds of Spanish galleons, lapis rock carried by camel train from the mountains of Badakhshan.

Alchemists prepared deadly 'King's Yellow' and 'ruby of arsenic'. 'Moorish Gold' was concocted, according to a 12th century monk, from basilisk powder ground with human blood!

Small wonder artists kept their paint recipes closely guarded in Books of Secrets.

This lecture tells the stories of alchemy and adventure behind some our most beautiful and colourful paintings.