Blue paper has a niche but expansive part to play in art history. Originally made through a process of upcycling discarded blue rags (cenci neri or stracci tinti) into pulp, blue paper broke onto the art scene as a new material in northern Italy at the end of the 14th century. The forthcoming catalogue Drawing on Blue: European Drawings on Blue Paper, 1400s–1700s (Getty Publications, 2024) traces the introduction and adoption of blue paper as a drawing medium throughout Europe over the course of several centuries, presenting roughly 100 works united by its use.
Edited by Edina Adam and Michelle Sullivan — an assistant curator and associate conservator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, respectively — the book was created to accompany an exhibition opening at the institution later this month, which will explore the methodology of making blue paper, its dissemination throughout the art world during the Renaissance, and techniques developed by various artists to work with this new and exciting material.
Featured image: Jean-Baptiste Oudry, “Landscape with a Staircase and a Balustrade” (c. 1744–47), black and white chalks with white opaque watercolor, pen and ink framing on the edge son blue paper, 12 5/8 x 20 5/8 inches
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