The story of magenta

I love magenta.

Named after a battle between the French and Austrians in Lombardy, this colour that is 50:50 purple and red took the art world by storm with its purplish charisma when it was discovered in the late 1800s.

Magenta – an aniline dye made and patented in 1859 – was originally named ‘fuchsine’ by French chemist François-Emmanuel Verguin.

It was then renamed to celebrate the Italian-French victory against the Austrians at the Battle of Magenta in the Lombardy region of Italy. 

It appeared in Bouguereau’s Psyche (the colour is mesmerising in this painting) and in Gaugin’s Portrait of Marie Lagadu, but it was Matisse and other Fauvists who really went to town with it (I love it in Les toits de Collioure, defining outlines and providing atmospheric shading with style and modernity).

Are you a magenta fan?

Martha, The Colour File x

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