WHAT HAPPENED TO VAN GOGH’S COLORS. I gather that the colors of paintings have always been subject to change over time (Annalisa tells me that if you buy tubes of paint now, they come with color fastness ratings). Van Gogh’s colors are thought to have been subject to more deterioration than those of earlier painters. As this article by J S Marcus in the Wall Street Journal points out, painters previously had made their own paints, but “van Gogh belonged to one of the first generations of artists who bought mass-produced paints sold in tubes.” The reds have been particularly unstable. For example, Van Gogh made purple by mixing blue and red together. Now the fading of the red has left some of the purples as light blue. And the reds that remain are not as bright.

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