Alchemy’s Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation

This episode explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters.

Episode 188 | May 5, 2014
alchemical painting

Episode 188: Alchemy's Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation by Distillations Podcast

“Alchemy’s Rainbow: Pigment Science and the Art of Conservation” features art conservator Mark F. Bockrath and art historian and CHF fellow Elisabeth Berry Drago.

Our guests discuss and show the messy and occasionally dangerous process of making paints from pigments and the transition to using paints from tubes. They explain how conservators preserve paintings and why alchemists were so important to painters in early modern times.

Show Clock

00:07 Introduction
01:15 Painting like it’s 1699 with Elisabeth Berry Drago
05:39 The time-consuming nature of natural materials
08:07 Girl with a Pearl Earring clip
12:44 Ultramarine, the ultra expensive pigment
14:51 The dark side of art: toxic pigments
20:24 Call to the community – watch the full webcast on Vimeo
20:54 Alchemy
22:54 Conservation


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Producer, reporter and editor: Mariel Carr
Guests: Mark F. Bockrath and Elisabeth Berry Drago

Music Credits

“Pensacola Twilight,” Lee Rosevere
“Do What You Can,” Lee Rosevere 
“Backtime,” Lee Rosevere
“Stardust,” Phonotrash 
“Sunny Day,” The Rabbits 
“Wonder Cycle," Chris Zabriskie 
“Nia," Dubh Thrian
“Tragic," Semyon
“Converge to Some Centre," We Are All Alone 
“First,” Overlake 
"The Plaintive Heating Griddle,” Ergo Phizmiz 
Songs above courtesy of the Free Music Archive
"Stabbings," Moby -

Links to show content:

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Elisabeth Berry Drago at CHF