Latest Issue of Science News


Glass materials let Venetian art shine

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.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.