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Glass materials let Venetian art shine

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8:38pm, December 13, 2004

From Boston, at a meeting of the Materials Research Society

Sixteenth-century Venetian painters, renowned for their brilliant and colorful works of art, may have borrowed a few tricks from an unlikely source: glassmaking. Recent analyses of several Venetian paintings reveal that the artists mixed glassy particles into their oil paints, perhaps in an effort to expand their palettes and enhance the vibrancy of their colors.

"The glassmaking industry was burgeoning in Venice at the time," says Barbara Berrie, a conservation scientist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. While scanning a 1543 inventory from a Venetian store that sold paint pigments, Berrie discovered a number of materials necessary for making glass. She then analyzed several Venetian paintings to see whether she could find similar materials.

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