Classic Blue, Green and Red Pigments
Long before modern Blue Pigments were produced chemically, sources for Blue Shades were limited to colors available in nature. Semi-precious stones were ground to produce rich shades of blue. Since most semi-precious stones contain impurities, techniques were devised to remove these impurities, so that only the purest color could be extracted. This very laborious and complex process was finally perfected by Fra Angelico in Italy. Fra Angelico developed a method by which only the purest blue was extracted from the Lapis Lazuli. Furthermore, he perfected the use of Lapis Lazuli by developing a special painting technique which displayed the color at the height of possible brilliance.
While the purest form of the Lapis Lazuli Pigment is the most sought after and most expensive, the impurities that are removed during the purification process still offer a beautiful range of blues. Furthermore Fra Angelico found that these inferior shades of blue, were important as under-painted layers for the final veil of the pure Lapis Lazuli. Since Fra Angelico discovered these techniques and attributes, the purified Lapis Lazuli took on his name.
Azurite: was a historical pigment used widely before the discovery of Fra Angelico Blue. This beautiful grayish shade of blue can be found in such masterpieces as Giotto's frescos.