When I first saw these jars of minerals, I hadn't the faintest idea what they were for. I thought maybe the Old Man collected them for their brilliant colours. I know I would.
And then I found this journal which kind of explained everything. This is a journal about colour pigments used in ancient Persian miniature paintings. In the journal were drawings and handwritten notes explaining how these colour pigments were extracted from various minerals.
There was the obvious, like green from green earth, with footnotes on how the most famous deposits were found in mines located in Verona, Italy. Ro should be interested in this, I thought as I read on. So would Ewalina and Birgit and friends living in various parts of Europe because mines of the stones, celadonite and glauconite where green earth could be extracted were also found in Poland, Saxony and the Mendip hills of England.
The journal went on to give details about how orpiment gives you yellow, cinnabar produces red and charcoal, black.
A good many pages however, were devoted to the most prominent colour of them all, the one that in the medieval days, was described as a pigment more expensive than gold. It was the lapis blue or ultramarine.
The Old Man had kept a small quantity of his lapis lazuli stones in a metal chest, probably even under lock and key at one time. Now they lay abandoned, like the other jars of minerals. Yet, despite being forgotten, one could still see beneath the dust how the stones kept that special blue, famous for its brilliance, depth and luxury.
With the mural as testament, it was easy to appreciate the mystique surrounding that colour; especially in the context of Cennino Cennini's unreserved adulation which I also found in the journal:
Ultramarine blue is a colour illustrious, beautiful and most perfect, beyond all other colours; one could not say anything about it, or do anything with it, that its quality would not still surpass... Let some of that color, combined with gold, which adorns all the works of our profession, whether on wall or on panel, shine forth in every object.
My interest was piqued. What if I could do what many had failed to do? What if I could decipher Cennini's method and extract the blue of all blues, the purest, most genuine ultramarine from the lapis, like what the Old Man had obviously done?
Needless to say, I promptly forgot all the rules I had made before I returned to the house. It was more of the late nights, even more working, definitely all alone. It was also the embarking of one of my most exciting projects thus far.