Titian and his Venetian Lapis Lazuli


Stephen Hornsby-Smith

It wasn't until Afghan 'Lapis Lazuli revealed its secret blue colour for Painting that we were invited to share its connection of sea and oceans joining the 'heavens , and by doing so, mapped-out the planet before the New World was opened up to European discovery ! Lapis Lazuli was to be found only in one location, one mine, but it became the lead protagonist of Renaissance Painting, cutting through the Dark Ages by bringing true dimensions to Art.

Such was the iconographic quantum leap in Painting, that the all powerful Church began to be suspicious of it. Too popular and too liberating for too many led to the Church effectively restricting it to only the most wealthy Painters who could pay the spiraling price of lapis Lazuli ,made so by the Church manipulating its market price ! But a Venetian called Titian relished the challenge of bold colours and invested in his application of it to make his monumental work of Bacchus and Ariadne that didn't limit a Virgin Mary figure to have a monopoly of Blue, but celebrated a mythological work to stick two fingers up at the Church ! What a warrior with Paint and a Paint brush ! The Painting may be exquisite but it show cases the splendour of lapis lazuli as much as it celebrates Titian's masterly handling of it ! Finally the Church had to recognize that this blue resonated with the public as an iconoclastic advancement that shouldn't be more artificially expensive than Gold ! Titian pre-dated but influenced the 20th centuries master of blue- Yves Klein, who valued his blue beyond any spectrum he knew !


Finally a US Astranaut's photo of the Blue planet managed to captivate in the same way that Titian and Klein did ! Sure his photo revealed the dark side of Earth that illustrated the other sides imposition of the Cold War' by swallowing it in pitch blackness, but its amazing capture of the blue 2 thirds of the Earth that relayed a heaven on Earth as well as offering Klein's escape from it as well as offering a sense of 'home' as a sanctuary, a destination of a garden of Eden made unique by blue sky and sea mapping-out paradise ! Today it offers us how we must protect our planet from exploitation and climate change, intensified by technological pollutants and consumer over-digitalization ! Humanity can reach out and reach back into its natural state, but humans have become carnivores of the same habitat essential for all life, which it consumes at a rate that will see a potential climate nightmare ! It's almost as if our blue sky, heavens and oceans are appealing to us to save our 'blue planet in which the role of lapsi lazuli overtly demonstrated by its beauty and its rigged nature !


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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