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FLORENCE, Italy — “A noble color, beautiful, the most perfect of all colors,” Cennino Cennini said of ultramarine, the pigment made from powdered lapis lazuli, in his “Book of the Arts,” written around 1400.
Until the late 18th century the only source of lapis lazuli in Europe, Asia and Africa was the remote Sar-e-Sang valley in the Badakhshan mountains in northeast Afghanistan, where it has been mined for more than six millennia.
It was used by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians for jewelry and amulets, and its reputed magic aura as a defense against the evil eye goes back thousands of years. Its diffusion in Europe began during the Crusades, but its rarity and cost meant that it could be afforded for the creation of art works only by the richest of patrons.
Prominent among these were the Medici who, during the 16th century, built up a unique collection of objects — from bowls, goblets and jugs to inlaid pictures and furniture — made from and adorned with this precious stone.
Largest permanent inventory of Lapis Lazuli in the United States. Mark allows qualified buyers by appointment only.
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