University of Cambridge > > SCI Cambridge Science Talks > What have the planets got to do with the metals? Scientific axioms and astrology.

What have the planets got to do with the metals? Scientific axioms and astrology.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact John O'Toole.

For over three thousand years, a range of metallic corrosion products were manufactured for use as artists’ colours. The talk looks at recipes for making pigments in artists’ treatises and the use of pigments in Old Master paintings to examine the historic connection between metals and planets. It focuses on a recipe that involves mercury.

We will look at medieval artists’ materials and methods in a manner as close as possible to the way painters themselves saw them in the middle ages. To do that, we must adopt the world view of 13th/14th century European artisans and assume that they were reasonably well-informed about science, philosophy and religion, but were not too worried about the finer details. We will encounter general principles that pervade their traditional world view, giving a broader understanding than just alchemy or paint.

Signed copies of Dr Bucklow’s book, “The Alchemy of Paint”, upon which this talk is based, will be available for purchase after the lecture. The book draws upon his experience as a scientist studying the material nature of works of art. His starting point was that great paintings are physical testament to medieval skills in chemistry, optics and perception, just as the great Gothic cathedrals are physical testament to medieval engineering skills.

Suitable for artists and scientists. Open to non-members. Free admission. Suitable for A-level students. Notes: No tickets – so come early to get a good seat. Doors open at 18:30.

Contact : John O’Toole Event organised by Cambridge University ChemSoc, RSC Mid-Anglia Section & SCI Cambridge & Great Eastern Region

This talk is part of the SCI Cambridge Science Talks series.

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