Indigo Plant Facts
The word “indigo” comes from the Latin words “in-deo,” meaning “from God.” The term was first used in 1797 by French botanist Jean Baptiste Blavatsky (1831–1911). She wrote that indigo refers to a mystical color associated with the divine, and it is the source of all other colors.
Her book The Secret Doctrine (published 1875) described the use of indigo dye to create a variety of colors.
Blavatsky’s theories were later popularized by William Burroughs, whose novel Naked Lunch (1963) featured an allegorical story about a man who becomes addicted to heroin after ingesting some of the drug extracted from the leaves of a sacred Indian plant called kush.
Burroughs’ book inspired many others to experiment with drugs and hallucinogens. Today, there are hundreds of different varieties of indigo plants grown worldwide. These plants have been cultivated for centuries as ornamental shrubs or small trees.
They grow wild only in certain areas of India, Nepal, Burma and China. Indigofera tinctoria grows naturally in tropical regions around the world including South America, Africa and Australia.
The leaves of the indigo plant are used for making dye. For centuries, people in India have extracted natural dyes from the leaves of this and other plants. The English word indigo is probably adapted from the Latin word indicum, which means “india.” The word was first used in 1613.
One of the most famous works of art in which indigo is used is Van Gogh’s Starry Night (1901). The painting depicts the village of Saint-Remy, France.
The bright blue color of the night sky in Van Gogh’s masterpiece was created using natural dye from the leaves of indigo plants. The artist also used natural dyes to create other colors in his works.
The Indigofera tinctoria plant produces several different varieties. Each one has a slightly different color hue. The flowers of the plant are purple.
Mature plants grow anywhere from two to five feet tall. When they bloom, it is usually between April and May.
The first recorded use of natural dyes was in India, where dyers gathered plants to make clothing with rich colors. One of the oldest natural dyes is the purple produced from the mucus of a particular sea snail called the Murex trunculus. The Egyptians used to extract the mucus of these snails and then mix it with salt.
The resulting paste was heated and formed into thin cords, which were woven into cloth.
The delicate shade of purple produced by this process was reserved for royal clothing and priestly robes in ancient Egypt. One of the most famous works of art to use this color is the Tutankhamen, which is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Indigo is the name of a deep blue color used in paintings. The word is adapted from the Latin indigo, which comes from the Greek indikon, meaning Indian. This refers to the plant Indigofera tinctoria, which was used to create a dye of the same color.
Riding on a boat with your sister and her husband on the river Nile must be one of the most peaceful activities imaginable. That is what English painter John Robert Cozens (1747-1796) was doing in 1782. He and his party probably visited several ancient ruins along the banks of the river.
This image shows the ancient Temple of Karnak, located just south of Luxor in Upper Egypt. The temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad: a group of three gods including Amun, Mut and Khonsu. The ancient Egyptian ruler, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BCE), ordered the temple built in honor of these gods.
The temple was originally several times bigger than it is today. It consists of several pylons or porticos, surrounded by 120 columns, with passageways and halls. The columns are carved from red granite and were brought from Aswan, over 800 miles away.
The ruins of the temple are a popular tourist destination. It is common to see tour groups strolling about, listening to a guide explain the history of the temple.
This painting depicts the temple as it would have appeared in 1782, before the Aswan Dam was built in 1902. The dam created a lake that covered some of the original land on which the temple was built. Rising water levels changed the shoreline, submerging some parts of the ruins underwater.
Normally, the columns of the temple would be covered with carvings and hieroglyphics, but they are blank in this painting. The artist did not want to clutter up the lines and composition of his work.
The ancient Egyptians used a pigment called Nile Blue to create the blue coloring on the temple columns. It can last for a very long time if protected from water, wind, and direct sunlight. The pigment is made by grinding rocks containing clay into a fine powder.
The powder is then mixed with a liquid and stirred slowly over a fire.
When the liquid evaporates, the clay turns into a fine powder of its own. As it cools, it turns into a solid pigment that can be used to create a variety of colors. The pigment in this painting appears as an off-white color on the temple columns.
The ancient Egyptians were one of the first ancient cultures to develop dyes and pigments. The practice of medicine, chemistry and mining are all indebted to the ancient Egyptians. The use of ink for writing can be traced back to the time when hieroglyphs were first used in 3,000 BCE.
The black color of the columns is a dye made from burning pieces of wood and collecting the soot. The darker the wood, such as ebony, the darker the black pigment. The wood soot is mixed with water and strained through a cloth to create a pure black dye.
While the ancient Egyptians are known for their use of blue dyes, the pigment used in this painting is Nile Blue. While it would be natural to assume that light colors would not last as long as dark ones, the opposite is true. Dark pigments require a fixative to keep them from fading over time, regardless of exposure to sunlight or water.
The artist of this painting has used a number of pigments to create this work. Each color is mixed with a medium, or base, that helps it to adhere to the surface. The base also determines how long the pigment will last and how it will interact with natural light and atmospheric pollutants.
For example, some bases will cause colors to change when exposed to UV rays. These rays are the main reason paint in your home fades over time.
To protect the colors in this painting from fading, the artist has used a combination of linseed oil and damar resin. These ingredients allow the pigments to adhere to the surface while protecting them from UV rays, water, and other natural elements.
The linseed oil and damar resin are mixed together and then boiled until they are a thick syrup. A touch of beer is sometimes added to the mixture to help it adhere more strongly to the surface.
In some cases, artists use mixtures of gums, waxes, and oils in their paintings. Each mixture creates a different texture and finish on the painting. The artist of this work has chosen a mixture of linseed oil and damar resin for the texture and drying time he was looking for.
The sky is traditionally the domain of blue pigments. In this case, the artist has used cobalt blue pigment mixed with a bit of oil to help it stick to the surface. The pigment goes on much darker than it will appear once it dries.
There is no green pigment in this painting. The artist used a mixture of blue and yellow pigments to create the green grass in the foreground. The blue and yellow lighten the intensity of each other, creating a lighter, grass color that matches the coloring of the real thing.
The artist has used some artistic license with the color of the tree trunks. In nature, trees have a mixture of brown, red, and green coloring. The artist has chosen to use a single red-orange pigment for this painting to bring out the details in the bark.
The artist of this painting used rodinol dye to create the red coloring of the poppies in the foreground. This dye was first created in the late 1800s and has become a popular choice for artists.
You may be wondering about the sparkles you see in the painting. As you might expect, these are very small specks of gold dust mixed into the red pigment, giving the poppies a subtle shimmer. This technique is often used in portraits to make the subject’s face pop out from the rest of the painting.
In this case, it brings attention to the foreground flowers and suggests the sun’s reflection off of them.
The artist used several different whites in this painting. The main white base for the painting is lead white, but the white highlights on the house and around the flowers are made from zinc white. These two whites are mixed with linseed oil and damar resin to create a stronger pigment that won’t fade as quickly when exposed to UV rays.
In this case, the artist has used a traditional portrait style pose for his subject. We don’t know much about the man in this painting, but his clothing provides us with a few clues. For one thing, the ruffles at his wrist and ankle are a sign that he is wealthy and has enough free time to play a musical instrument rather than work.
Peasant clothing from this time period was very basic. Many peasants didn’t have shoes and their clothes were made from crudely processed wool or linen. This man’s shoes are long and pointy, suggesting that they are made from leather.
They also have a white cotton lining, suggesting that they are quite new.
If you look at his arms below the frilly cuffs, you can see that his sleeves are quite puffy. The modern painter makes the fabric appear 3D like this to make the subject look more realistic and to hide the artist’s mistakes; no one has perfectly flat arms!
The man holds a small flute-like instrument called a recorder. Recorders are members of the flute family and are played by blowing into them as though one is blowing across the top of a bottle. This causes the holes along the bottom to open and close, allowing air to flow over the holes and make a noise.
Recorders didn’t exist in Europe until Dutch traders introduced them from Southeast Asia. Before this time, people played instruments from the flute family that were made from animal bones rather than metal.
This man’s clothing is very formal and he wears shoes, rather than going barefoot like a peasant might. He also wears a decorative ribbon and holds a notebook under his arm, suggesting that he is either a professional musician or a student.
This painting shows a house located in the countryside. There is very little detail given about the house or its surroundings, but we can still make out a few identifying features.
The most obvious feature is the red roof. Red tiles are traditionally used in Belgium, as they are durable and easy to make from clay found near riverbeds. The peaks of the roof have a distinctive v-shape, also common in Belgium and Northern France.
The house itself is made of stone. The stones are joined together seamlessly, suggesting that the person who built the house was skilled. The windows are tall and narrow, a style common in Normandy, where the artist lived and worked.
The surrounding area is hilly and covered with trees. This indicates that the house isn’t very close to a city or other large settlement. In the background, we can see a mountain and a lake.
There are no people in this painting, but there are two animals–a duck and a cat. The duck is looking at the viewer while swimming near the edge of the lake. Ducks were kept for their eggs and meat in medieval times.
They also warn of approaching danger by making loud noises. This duck is quiet, suggesting that there is no immediate danger.
The cat is sitting in the grass by the house. The position of its body and tail look exactly like that of a modern-day tabby cat, suggesting that cats have not changed much over the centuries.
Despite the lack of people and the presence of animals, this isn’t a painting about the animals or the scenery. It’s a painting about the house. The house is the subject of this painting.
The artist has chosen to show only a few elements of this house because he wants us to use our imagination to think about who might live there and what the inside of the house looks like.
In 1655, the Kingdom of France began a series of wars on the neighboring independent province of the Low Countries, which consisted of modern-day Belgium and the Netherlands. The reasons for this conflict were complex, but basically came down to French King Louis XIV’s desire to expand his borders and increase his own power. This period of continual warring became known as the Franco-Dutch War.
The Netherlands had a strong tradition of independence and hostility towards France, which was a relatively large and powerful nation. After years of onslaught, the Dutch eventually succumbed to French power in 1678, following the defeat at the Battle of Stoctkirk. With the war still raging, French King Louis XIV and his court visited the newly-conquered province in 1671 to remind the locals of who was in charge.
This painting shows that visit. The painting shows King Louis XIV, his younger brother the Duke of Anjou, and some of their most important advisors. French soldiers can also be seen in the background ready to quash any dissent.
The artist has chosen to show this monumental event by placing the French Royal Family on a grand staircase in what seems to be a large and ornate palace.
The king’s advisors and soldiers are dressed in elaborate clothes that display their wealth and power. The king and his brother wear brightly colored clothing with golden trim, while the king’s advisors wear red and blue silk with white lace cuffs. The red of the advisors’ clothes represent their allegiance to the king.
The king’s advisors are positioned on each side of him. On the left is the King’s Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a powerful and influential figure during the king’s reign. He is the king’s right-hand man and his intentions in this painting are to show the king’s strength and power.
On the right, near the balustrade, is Father Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie, the King’s Chief of Police. His presence is to show how the king cares for the safety of his people and how he has brought law and order to the area.
The king himself seems indifferent to the people around him. His expression is blank and his eyes stare directly at the person he is looking at, without really focusing on them. He is holding a handkerchief in his right hand and his pinky finger is stuck out, a sign that he feels superior to everyone around him.
In the painting we can see various symbols that the artist has included to show the king’s power and importance. The most obvious symbol is the king himself. By positioning him in the middle of the painting, Sedelmeyer is showing that the king is the most important person in the room, followed by his advisors, then the other people around him.
The next symbol is the fashion in which the king and his court are dressed. The king’s clothing is of the latest French fashion, and so are the clothes of his court. This shows how the French influence has spread throughout the Low Countries.
In the bottom right corner of the painting, we can see two men fighting. This refers to the ongoing conflict between the monarchy and its opponents. Sedelmeyer is trying to show that the king’s power and influence has spread so far that even those living in the Dutch Republic are affected by his power and authority.
It is a very colorful painting and there is a lot happening in it, which was done deliberately by Sedelmeyer. He was a Baroque artist and so he liked his paintings to be very dramatic and full of ACTION as this one is.
The colors he uses are bright and vivid, the costumes and the king’s throne being designed to catch the eye. The painting also has a lot of movement in it with many people, most of them openly looking at the king and his advisors. By adding more people to the painting Sedelmeyer has made it feel more real and less like a flat painting.
This is a very important painting for two reasons:
Firstly, it was painted by one of the most famous artists of his day. It was owned by King Louis XIV of France and is now in the Museum Carnavalet in Paris. It shows how influential French artists were at this time.
Secondly, it is an example of official art. This means that the painting was an order by The Sun King, himself. It is designed to show him in a very positive way to all of his subjects, and it worked!
This painting shows how, even in a republic like the Dutch were trying to be, the king is all-powerful.
The National Maritime Museum in London has a painting of the same name, painted by Willem van der Helm in 1664, showing some of the events in the same place two years earlier.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Isolation of an antidermatophytic, tryptanthrin, from indigo plants, Polygonum tinctorium and Isatis tinctoria. by G Honda, V Tosirisuk, M Tabata – Planta Medica, 1980 – cabdirect.org
Indigo as a Plant Growth Inhibitory Chemical from the Fruit Pulp of Couroupita guianensis Aubl. by K Begum, T Motobayashi, N Hasan, KS Appiah… – Agronomy, 2020 – mdpi.com
Comparative study of the major components of the indigo dye obtained from Strobilanthes flaccidifolius Nees. and Indigofera tinctoria Linn. by WS Laitonjam… – … Journal of Plant …, 2011 – academicjournals.org
Extraction of indigo from some Isatis species and dyeing standardization using low-technology methods by N Comlekcioglu, L Efe, S Karaman – Brazilian Archives of Biology and …, 2015 – SciELO Brasil
Formation of the indigo precursor indican in genetically engineered tobacco plants and cell cultures by H Warzecha, A Frank, M Peer… – Plant biotechnology …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library