Page 37

60. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 –  1669). Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653. Oil on canvas, 56½ x 53¾ in. (143.5 x 136.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, special ­contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198). Cochineal lake pigment was identified in the black shadows.

61. Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890). Shoes, 1888. Oil on canvas, 18 x 21¾ in. (45.7 x 55.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1992 (1992.374). Cochineal lake pigment was found in the shadow on the inside of the right shoe and on the flooring.

years document the increasing expertise of dyers, who were able to create strong, even, fast colors and to repeat their creations in a consistent way. Jean Hellot, whose 1789 Art of Dying Wool, Silk, and Cotton continued Colbert and D’Albo’s work, described “fire scarlet” or Dutch scarlet as “tinged with orange, . . . fiery red and dazzling. . . . Cochineal, which produced this beautiful color, and which is called Mestique or Texcale [ after the regions of Mexico where it was cultivated ], is an insect gathered in considerable quantity in Mexico.” Apart from the high-quality cultivated Mexican cochineal and its lower-quality cousin, wild cochineal (which the Spanish called grana silvestre), according to Hellot a third type of cochineal was available on the market, at a lower price: “damaged cochineal” that was “sometimes sold at Cádiz, either shipwrecked or by some mischance, wet with sea water.” Hellot also discussed the choice of water for dyeing fabrics scarlet, noting that “common water,” containing stony or calcareous earth that makes it hard, “saddens the color.” 32 35

Profile for The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color  

Elena Phipps The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 2010 Volume LXVII, Number 3 Copyright © 2010 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art,...

Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color  

Elena Phipps The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Winter 2010 Volume LXVII, Number 3 Copyright © 2010 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art,...

Profile for metmuseum
Advertisement