A blue Indigo mood

“I’m just a poor fool that’s bluer than blue…”

Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington

Recently I was thumbing through a copy of An Atlas of Rare and Familiar Pigments, a publication of Harvard Art Museum’s Forbes Pigment Collection. I was taken by the organic pigment Indigo. We have talked before about the use of Ultramarine as a rare and expensive pigment used in Renaissance Art, but Indigo is also part of the story. Ultramarine was employed to depict the high end blue clothes of the rich and elite in paintings, but the clothes themselves were dyed with Indigo. The flowers of the plant Indigofera tinctoria became an important cloth dye in Egypt, India, Japan, The Mogul Empire, and of course later in Europe. At the height of its popularity, it was more valuable by weight than gold. Ironically, with the industrial production of synthetic Indigo pigments in the late 19th Century, Indigo was used as the primary colouring for denim. In doing so, it became integral to a piece of clothing owned by nearly everyone. A pair of blue jeans. #royallydressedinblue #letsmakelemonade

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