Blue wins the polls as most popular in America and Europe but when used as a pigment for painting, it is the rarest and most precious shade of all.
#1: The Greeks and Romans did not have a word for the color blue, although they used it.
#2: The Egyptians invented the first synthetic blue pigment to copy the unique color of the precious stones lapis and turquoise.
#3: During the Middle Ages, blue textile dye was expensive to produce (they used woad, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean) so it was only used by the wealthy.
#4: Blue pigments for painters were also very expensive so it was only used for the most important subjects. In the Renaissance the Virgin Mary was always painted wearing blue, so the color became the symbol of purity, humility and the divine.
#5: 'Ultramarine' (ultramarinus, Latin) means 'beyond the sea'. It was the hallmark of many Renaissance paintings, but the pigment was extremely expensive. Only a few artists could afford buying and using it. One of them was Titian. He was famous for the lavish use of ultramarine.
#6: Chinese blue and white porcelain has been highly prized since the 9th century. This 'blue and white ware' used cobalt, which was twice as expensive as gold!
#7: The Europeans, after centuries of unsuccessful attempts, were finally able to copy Chinese porcelain. In 1786 the right shade of 'Portland blue' was produced in the factory of Josiah Wedgewood.
#8: The arrival of a new blue dye called 'indigo' rocked the European textile trade in the 16th century. It eventually replaced woad.
#9: The sturdy cotton jean fabric dyed with indigo was first produced in Genoa, Italy in the 17th century. Nimes (a French city) copied it not long after ('de Nimes' aka DENIM). The pants made of this material are called blue jeans.
#10: Between 1947 and 1957 French artist Yves Klein perfected what he considered the purest blue of all. The name 'International Klein Blue' is a registered trademark.