The Baroque Science of Color

Lecture by Vera Keller, Associate Professor, Clark Honors College
Wed, 01/17/2018 - 5:30pm

Color and dyes offered a central showcase for Baroque science. Naturalists of the period delighted in reaching across disciplinary bounds, and color research beautifully united the study of matter, optics, art, and antiquity. Color research also aided the theatricality of period science, when spectacular demonstrations and bedazzling gifts served as central currency between scholars and patrons. The Roman context set this scientific theatricality upon a triumphal stage that made the research of certain colors and textile techniques, such as the “lost” ancient purple or the dyeing of silk, particularly meaningful. The dramatic recovery or discovery of these techniques would allow, contemporaries thought, modern glory to compete with ancient Rome. This lecture explores experimental research into color and textile techniques from the period of the Barberini tapestries, particularly in connection with the Academy of the Linceans, or "Lynx-eyed," of which Francesco Barberini was a member.