Monday, 27 November 2017

berliner blau

As part of a series of profiles on colours and their surprising origin stories (previously), we enjoyed reading about Katy Kelleher’s favourite—the blue of blueprints, van Gogh’s Starry Night and Hokusai’s Great Wave—the profound but wholly synthetic and accidental Prussian Blue.
As a colour—with medical applications later discovered that make the compound part of every first aid kit—it was discovered accidentally when one Doktor Johann Conrad Dippel was sharing a Berlin laboratory with a pigment-maker and was mixing up a batch of his signature bone-slurry. The alchemist—who many believe was the inspiration for Doctor Frankenstein, and there was some inadvertent cross-contamination which turned suspected ruddy hues to an intense blue.  The timing of the discovery perfectly filled a market gap at a time when dyes and pigments were expensive and not particularly colour-fast and became a very lucrative mistake for both involved and quickly augmented the spectrum of the art and textile world.