Three oyster shells with traces of pigment: 13th century
© Museum of London
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Three oyster shells with traces of paint. All contain the remains of red paint the bottom one has also traces of blue pigment. Illuminators and scribes ground their own pigments or purchased the ingredients in a prepared form from a stationer or apothecary. Various additives were used to modify colour, texture and opacity. A variety of colorants could be used: for example, blues could be derived from azurite or copper, reds from vermilion or red iron oxide, and white from lead. The prepared mixtures were kept in oyster shell palettes. It is likely that they were used in the decoration of the walls of churches and palaces. Several of these palettes have been recovered from religious sites in London. Of these three examples, one was found from excavations at the Guildhall and the others from Merton Priory, date to the 1200s and 1300s.
1200 AD - 1300 AD