One cabinet of colors, one cabinet of chemical history.
One cabinet of colors, one cabinet of chemical history.
Beautiful paint collections and the stories behind them

since N years ago, I have been fascinated by the feeling that things with a large array of color numbers are arranged together, whether it's colored pencils, cosmetics or pigments. I feel very comfortable as long as I see a piece of color.

if you feel the same way, the following exhibits must be suitable for you, too:

these brightly colored powders in bottles and cans are paint samples, the collection of former Fogg Art Museum CEO Edward Forbes, which has a total of more than 2500 pieces on display at the Harvard Museum of Art (Harvard Art Museums). These paints are not only beautiful, but also learn a lot about the history related to chemistry.

next, let's introduce several kinds of

group cyan:

Natural group blue is made of lapis lazuli powder, and the blue is quite pure, which can be seen in many well-known paintings. Lapis lazuli is a sodium-calcium aluminosilicate sulfide. In the 19th century, synthetic group blue appeared, and its color is more gorgeous than natural group green.


unlike many mineral pigments, it is a famous natural dye from insects. Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), native to America, was introduced to Europe by Spaniards during the great voyage and has been used in food and cosmetics (such as lipstick) for hundreds of years.


in the past, realgar and realgar were both good friends of painters. Realgar (As4S4) and realgar (As2S3) are both sulfides of arsenic, and they are often associated with each other. In the picture below, the red and orange is realgar, and the yellow above is realgar.

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emerald green:

in the past, painters had to take some risks in their pursuit of perfect colors. Realgar mentioned above was toxic, while Paris Green (also known as Paris Green) was a highly toxic copper salt made of copper arsenite acetate. In addition to making pigments, this chemical has also been used as an insecticide and rodenticide.

for more information about pigments, you can read the original article. Information about these beautiful paint collections can also be seen on

previous articles have also introduced stories about purple synthetic dyes. Here you can see the knowledge of → beans: purple, the beginning of the history of artificial dyes