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62. Needlework picture. Boston, ca. 1750. Wool and silk embroidery on linen, the pink dress embroidered with cochineal-dyed wool; 10¾ x 13¾ in. (27.3 x 34.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Screven Lorillard, 1953 (53.179.13)

63. Mary Breed (American, 1751 – ca. 1784). Coverlet pieced together from a set of bed hangings. Stonington, ­Connecticut, 1770. Wool embroidery, the pink dyed with cochineal, on linen and cotton; 90¾ x 89 in. (230.5 x 226.1 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1922 (22.55)

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By the eighteenth century cochineal was being used in Europe for two colors: crimson, a deep, ­purplish red, and scarlet, the brilliant orange red. Crimson (see fig. 59) was produced with a number of recipes that enhanced the natural bluish qualities of the cochineal pink, while scarlet (see fig. 64) was made, after the Dutch method, by adding tin salts and other chemicals to the dyebath. To further enhance the brilliant scarlet color, some recipes of the period call for the addition of a yellow dye, such as turmeric, a tropical rhizome imported from Southeast Asia. Once trade began with the Americas, an abundant and less expensive alternative was available: annatto seed paste, which was imported in large quantities and incorporated into dye recipes to help create the appropriate hue for cochineal scarlet. While cochineal was valued primarily for its dyeing properties, from the sixteenth until the late nineteenth century painters and sculptors in Europe also relied on lake pigment prepared with cochineal extract to

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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,...

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