The Easel

The Harvard Library That Protects The World’s Rarest Colors

Some colour pigments used to be worth a fortune – lapis lazuli from Afghanistan or cochineal from the Spanish colonies. Harvard’s Forbes Pigment Collection harks back to this era, before the Industrial Revolution and organic chemistry made everything cheap. What colours can now boast a pedigree like, say, mummy brown, which came from resins taken off the wrappings of embalmed Egyptian bodies?